Two Years of Gratitude

I'm thankful for my family... I'm thankful for my friends... I'm thankful for my animals...

Growing up, I was never the most thankful person. Sure, on Thanksgiving I would say the things that most people say, such as family and friends, but other than that, I never gave gratitude a second thought. I went through life occasionally finding things to be thankful for, but usually, especially when praying, only focused on things I needed or wanted. I took a lot of things for granted, until November of 2014. 

The summer before my Freshman year of high school, I moved away from the house I had lived in for 12 years, and the school I'd been at for 9 years. I left the beach, mountains, and my swim team for a rental home, tiny bedroom, and 40-degree mornings in the winter time (for someone who was used to wearing sandals in January, this was not an easy adjustment). Fortunately, I was able to meet some people before moving, so my first day wasn't actually that bad. However, as the year progressed, I began to sink into a pit of anxiety that I couldn't see a way out of. I remember crying myself to sleep some nights because not only did I miss things that were familiar, but I was just so paranoid all the time. I spent a lot of time looking up "remedies for anxiety" and reading articles about how drinking chamomile tea is the best way to fall asleep when worried. 

By November, I'd had enough of being anxious, and decided to try the one thing that every website suggested but that I had always deemed "too trivial," which was to simply find something to be thankful for every day. I'll admit that the first time I did it I felt a little silly, but as time went on it began to get a lot easier. I started to branch out of the "I'm thankful for my family and friends," and began to realize all the other things that I was thankful for. I was thankful for my fluffy purple blanket, the leftover pizza I had for lunch, that I passed a test I wasn't really prepared for, and so many other things. I found that if I was able to find just three things to be thankful for, I would begin to notice the countless other reasons I had to be happy about. 

Now, in November of 2016, I still find at least three things to be thankful for every day. Sometimes I really have trouble finding things, but once I do, my overall day suddenly seems far better than it did before. I won't say that my anxiety fully went away when I started this practice, but it certainly has dwindled over the last couple of years. The last two years have been some of the happiest years of my entire life, and I credit that not only to finding things to be thankful for, but also to the amazing people I have met and my family that has always been there for me.

Today may be Thanksgiving, but that doesn't mean that you have to stop being thankful tomorrow or next week. Thornton Wilder once said that "We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures," and I completely agree with that. Finding things to be thankful for allows us to understand and appreciate the wonders around us. As for me, this year I am thankful for not only my family, friends, animals, and circumstances, but I am thankful for earl gray tea (with milk and sugar, thank you very much), my Ravenclaw sweatshirt (the most comfortable article of clothing I have ever owned), and this website. I'm so thankful that it's finally here and that people seem to be reading it- it's a nice feeling :-). 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and I hope you can all find something to be thankful for every day.