I am a woman who naturally finds the negative. I’m always finding what could be better, critiquing everything and get frustrated when things don’t go as well as they “should”. Add that to my predisposition for anxiety and depression (which I think runs in my family) and you’ve got a recipe for a very critical, grumpy, pessimistic person.
However, these past few months I’ve been following Miss Val’s blog. Valorie Kondos Field is a ballet dancer who for the last 25+ years has been coaching the UCLA Women’s Gymnastics team. She is someone I’ve admired and respected from a distance for a very long time, and I love that she is now using social media to share her thoughts and wisdom. Last year she shared with British gymnast and UCLA Bruin, Danusia Francis about her revelation just after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and going through treatment, and it really challenged me. She talked about the privilege of ‘getting to’ over ‘having to’. More recently she shared on her blog a conversation about gratitude between herself and two other people at UCLA – and I was challenged even more.
…after reading back my annual ‘So long [insert year]‘ post on facebook and being thoroughly depressed by it, and realising it’s been like that every year for a while I decided I needed to have a change in attitude. I saw a facebook meme about keeping notes of all the good things that happen. The prayer request jar from surf camp was lying on my bedroom floor – it had held all the fairy lights I use for the prayer space at surf camp and I’d taken them out to stick up on my bookcases since there was no room for my tree. I decided that I can buy a new jar for surf camp, and this is now going to be my jar of happiness. A place where I keep note of the little (and big) things that happen each day that make me happy or encouraged or help me in some way. Basically anything that I’m thankful for.
Come to think of it, really I should be calling it my ‘Jar of Gratitude‘.
I was using post-it notes but they are a bit annoying as they stick to the side of the jar, so when I was buying inserts for my filofax I went on search for a memo block. I found one, but I realised the loose paper would end up EVERYWHERE in my messy room. A lovely shop associate went to the stock room and searched for someone that would hold the memo block so that wouldn’t happen – and came back with the one pictured next to the jar. Happy days (and yes, that went into my jar. Yay for lovely helpful shop assistants).
Like happiness, gratitude is not a limited resource, and I think we can make a choice to be grateful instead of focusing on what we haven’t received or had happen to us. To be honest, in a year where fascism is rising and being labelled as simply ‘alt- right wing’ I think we’re going to need to put as much goodness and kindness into the world as we can to combat it!
I hope it’s going to be nice to look back on at the end of the year too.