Europe, Spain

Gratitude

I’ve been having a lot of mental health ups and downs and really struggling. Getting through it has felt quite impossible and each day is more of a struggle than the last. Yesterday, this cup of coffee was the only thing that sparked some joy. It was one of those low days, a lower than low day. Nothing could lift me up. I felt disconnected and empty and mentally exhausted.

Then I was surprised with a cup of coffee over the mid-day break. I took a moment to reflect on those few minutes and be grateful for even the short amount of time it added some light into my day.

I heard a while back that thinking about one gratitude each day has really positive psychological effects in a relatively short amount of time. Even having read the research that backed it, I thought this was stupid. Some enlightened spiritual practice that had little to no relation to my current struggles. My narrative was that people who recommended simple things like this clearly didn’t understand the depth of my inner turmoil and mental anguish. To think something so simple could have even any amount of impact meant they had no idea what I was up against.

Over time, I’ve shifted that narrative to, “If I truly believe that pain is inevitable and suffering is optional, I have to try anything under the sun and see what works.”

So I try to use the word “grateful” at least once a day now. In every shitty situation and every shitty day, I try to find something I’m grateful for. To use a cliché against my better judgment… “Not every day is a good day but there’s something good in every day.”

I can’t say it rids life of darkness. But I can say it sparks a little bit of joy and a little bit of light in that darkness. It gives me one moment to think about something that’s bettered my life even just for a moment in the day.

It changed my narrative of over-generalization and black-and-white thinking that there’s nothing positive, nothing good, nothing to experience and feel except pain. It adds a gray area to that narrative.

I’m grateful for that unexpected cup of coffee yesterday. The warmth of the cup in my hands on a cold day. The connection with others and laughing over our drinks. The chance for a respite before the next class.

I’m grateful for the little things and anything that can make a difference in wellbeing and the narratives we hold. I’m grateful for the chance to grow.

I’m grateful I’m not who I was 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even last year. I’m grateful that I cling to new narratives, and next year I won’t be the same person I am now.

I’m grateful, even in the midst of darkness.

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