Here’s the long-awaited journal entry for the C part of the #selfcaresaga – Cultivating Gratitude. We’ve gone through some pretty serious topics on this self-care journey, but understanding these are crucial if you want to learn to love yourself unconditionally. Another one of these topics is gratitude, something not exclusive to just Thanksgiving. In order to keep our hearts open to love, we must always employ gratitude in our lives. Some situations are easier than others, no doubt. But by acknowledging what we do have rather than what we don’t, we can create space for abundance, appreciation, and true unconditional love. Gratitude reminds us of our genuine wholeness and connectedness to the world around us.
Lately, I’ve been feeling confused. Wondering why I’m here in this human body. Why am I part of this 9-5 culture that shares absolutely none of my values? I didn’t ask to be here. Given another chance, would I want to be part of it? I don’t know. I think these are all valid questions and concerns. Why are we here in this body? What’s this life all about? I’m learning that there are no real answers to these questions. At least none of which we can be 100% certain.
A major feeling behind these thoughts was a sense of entitlement.. As if I were entitled to choose my type of existence. Why did I have to participate in this “human” project and where can I exit? Day to day tasks were getting increasingly harder, and I was losing energy. I could tell I was getting more anxious, too. My state of mind was constantly back and forth, no real sense of clarity or peace. Luckily, my trip for California was coming up, where I’d spend a week driving from Los Angeles, through the Sierra Nevada mountains up to Lake Tahoe, then across to Highway 1 down the Pacific coast. I was not aware then of the journey that would soon unfold.
I drove over 1500 miles over the span of 5 days, so I got to see so much of California’s natural beauty. Being surrounded by Mother Nature and her creation really humbled me. The beaches, the sunsets, the mountains, the ocean, the snow, everything. It was wild how captivating the geography was. The huge skies and beautiful colors. I was brought to tears several times. Rightly so.
How would I be able to experience any of the beauty around me if I weren’t here? If I didn’t have to be a part of the “human” project. Plain and simple, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t have a body or the proper organs to perceive it all. How lucky are we to be able to experience the glory of the universe.. It fills me with so much joy and love.
The opportunity to witness life around you is a blessing, and we’re living it right now.
When I returned home, I tried to keep up this idea of seeking out all of the beautiful things in nature. Although we don’t have mountains and beaches, we still have trees and flowers. A different expression of the same beauty. I was lighter when I returned home, cleansed of some of the entitlement I was harboring prior. Of course, a trip like that is enough to humble anyone, and not everyone has the opportunity to do so. But there is life around each of us, growing and evolving into the most perfect creatures, as long as we keep our eyes and hearts open.
Changing my perspective on my circumstances really made an impact on my mood and how I carried myself throughout the days to come. Shifting from a place of emptiness and lack to one of fullness and love allowed me to truly appreciate the things that I had in my life. Instead of asking why I had to deal with the suffering of the human world, I was reminded that I was given the opportunity of life, period. I was right, I didn’t have to be here. But I am. I was allowed a healthy body that acts as a vessel for me to experience this life. I have a strong support system that loves me unconditionally. Probably more than they should sometimes! With these feelings of appreciation and love, I was at peace. I could be without any of this stupid stuff, but I would still be here. Still breathing, still smiling, and still loving. How can you be frowning and moping when that is a fundamental truth you know to be certain?!
Staying focused on what we have keeps us feeling whole, complete. When we forget, we keep our attention on what we think we need, what could be better, what am I missing to be happy??! There’s this void that we try to fill with material and superficial things, but somehow, we never have enough to feel satisfied. This chasing will distract us from seeing what is already inside of us.
Everything we could ever want or need in this life is right here in our hearts.
This spirit within, capable of all the love in the universe. Essentially, our entire beings are made of love. Isn’t that what we are all ultimately looking for anyway? Not to mention how badass of a person you are to have made it this far. Being grateful for our journey, no matter how rough, will give us the strength to persist. We begin to trust our ability, and that goes a long way for self-care.
By nurturing this idea that we are already complete, we begin to develop a calm inner peace. We will understand that we already have everything we need, so instead of wasting energy there, we can move forward with experiencing life. Over time, these happier states of mind will attract more good things in our lives. Taking care of our mental health in this way helps us to make better choices for ourselves. The impact of gratitude on self-care is huge, and it’s a crucial step in creating the healthiest version of you.
If any of this sounds strange to you, I challenge you to make a list. Right now. Even if it doesn’t sound strange, make a list. Ten things in your life that you are grateful for. And if ten is too hard, try five. It may be hard, but it’s manageable if you get down deep. If you’ve read up to this point, I’ve already listed a couple you can steal. Here, I’ll make one with ya.
I’m grateful for
the opportunity to experience life
my beautiful and healthy body that allows me to live and love
a roof over my head, somewhere I can sleep safe at night
friends and family who support and encourage me to be my best
functioning organs that work effortlessly to let me live
beautiful skies that remind me of nature’s capabilities (also, science)
my intellect which helps me to make rational decisions (most of the time)
my heart that allows me to feel emotions so deeply and care for those around me
the universe and all her mysterious magnificence
chocolate ice cream
There are many ways we can express our love and gratitude for the earth and others. Saying “Thank you” goes a helluva long way in relationships. Compliment the heck out of others! Acknowledging your appreciation for the efforts of others builds respect and trust among your friends and colleagues. Being kind to the earth and other forms of life shows our regard for Mother Nature. Having a daily meditation on the things you are grateful for will keep these present in your mind. You don’t necessarily have to meditate, but I highly recommend it. Even writing one or two things down on a piece of paper is beneficial. That way you are acknowledging and speaking them into existence. Small gestures for others show them that you care and want to create a relationship based on reciprocity.
Some days are easier than others. Yeah, it’s nice to be grateful and all, but there are going to be some days where it seems like nothing is going right. It’s going to be the biggest challenge to try and visualize the things in your life you appreciate. But that’s the most important time. I challenge you to find the good out of a sticky situation. There are rewarding lessons hiding in the dark. Reframe your experience to be a learning opportunity. What is this teaching me? What can I learn from this? How is this making me a better person? Instead of hating where we are, we can instead be grateful. Thankful that we are given a chance to evolve. A chance to be a better version of ourselves. Keeping our gratitude present with us allows us to carry our strength wherever we go. That is something that people can’t take away from us. We have the choice of control of our minds. We can either be blind to the love and abundance around us, or we can fully embrace and feel it all. During the hard times, this strength will keep us moving forward.
We can persevere. And we will.