I planned to start this blog post with a life-altering quote or an earth-shattering line about the pursuit of happiness, but I am no authority on it. I can only speak to my path and why I chose to thank the universe regularly for this life and how the practice of gratitude has changed me and my belief system.
Growing up, I had a fascinating spiritual upbringing. My parents were on different ends of the spectrum when it came to religion. My father was an Atheist and thinks everyone on this planet is part of an experiment, and my mother is a non-practicing Baptist but holds a profound connection to faith. Because my parents had such different views on the topic, they decided to let my brother, and I choose which path we wanted to take.
My brother decided to continue down a traditional path and joined the Mormon church (only later to be exiled, but that a story for another day) when he was in high school. My journey wasn't so quickly decided. I looked into different faiths and found I respected bits and pieces of each one, but nothing really took hold. So my journey continued. It was until I was in my forties that I realized my search was in the wrong place.
I began researching more "new-age" teachings. Other practices teach self-kindness, mindfulness and gratefulness. To me, seeing this information was like finding the holy grail. The more I learned, the more I felt like I had found my tribe. My journey led me to a path with a fork in the road, and I chose to take the happiness trail.
Once I completed my research, it was time to put everything I learned into practice. To me, the logical place to start was with meditation.
Like so many people, I was always living in the past or the future, never in the present. It was driving me mad, literally, to relive conversations and play the "what if" game day in and day out. These toxic behaviours have caused years of anxiety and depression.
I need to be completely transparent with you, meditation is not an easy practice. It can take years and years of daily commitment to reach a real level of enlightenment. I haven't reached this point yet, but I'm committed to it. Yes, I've fallen off the wagon because I didn't see the results I thought I should have, but I think that's part of the journey. We have a tendency to return to our comfort zone because we don't see the results fast enough, and every once in a while we need to sway from the path to return to it (maybe that's a life-altering quote I was looking for when I started writing this post LOL).
The next cornerstone of my cosmic journey was to incorporate gratitude into my daily routine. Typically, individuals who partake in gratefulness keep a journal and write daily affirmations or points they are grateful for. I'm a bit of a tech geek, so I found an app that works the same way as a journal. Plus, the bonus of using an app, reminders!
I started by listing 5 things I'm thankful for each day. Seems simple, right?! Not quite. Some days, it's effortless to come up with 5 (or more) items, others, not so much. But, just like meditation, the more your practice, the easier it gets. Remember, what you're grateful for doesn't need to be super deep and profound, it can be as simple as your morning cup of coffee, or that great conversation you had with a friend. Don't overthink it, just go with it!
Since applying gratitude into my day, I'm more inclined to see the positive in situations that would cause me to spiral into a bout of depression. It's also helped me to stop overthink and analyze everything! But most importantly, it has allowed me to see the good in every day.
The most challenging component of my happiness pursuit is hands down self-care and self-kindness. To give you a bit of history, I was bullied as a child due to my size. I was always the hefty, bigger girl, and I was relentlessly teased because I was different. This was definitely a contributing factor to my low self-esteem, which in turn, resulted in little to no self-worth. It's also made me the person I am today - strong, determined, and someone who can overcome adversity.
My self-care routine started with a few simple changes; drinking more water, incorporating healthier food choices into my diet, practicing yoga, and seeking professional help for my anxiety and depression.
I've been in therapy for about 6 months now, and it has been one of the best choices I could have made. It has not only shown me how to re-establish my own worth; it allows me to accept my emotions and given me the tools needed to manage my anxiety and depression. I'm still working on the other aspects of self-care, so stay tuned.
I'll leave you with one more thing - don't forget to thank the Universe, God, Mother Earth, whoever your spiritual guide is. They are an essential part of gratitude.