Learning to Adult: Being Thankful
This week is Turkey Day! Which is what cool and original people call Thanksgiving. It’s a day of thanks, just like the title implies. As a child, when asked the ever popular question of “and what are you thankful for?”, I would always say, “my friends and family.” It was my go-to answer. I’m pretty sure it’s everyone’s go-to answer. There was a feast in front of me, did they really expect me to give a well thought answer? My focus was on how much mashed potatoes I could eat, not what I was thankful for. Well, that was years ago (actually it was last year), and now as an “adult” I’m finally learning how to answer that question with sincerity.
I think I could be more thankful in life. I think everyone could. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone ever say “wow, that person was too thankful. I was a bit peeved at how gratuitous she was. She needs tone it down a bit”. As an entitled millennial I tend to feel my life is horrible if I’m not spending my days in a modern wood paneled coffee shop with my dog, collaborating with a local clothing brand for their fall look-book, while accumulating thousands of followers on Instagram. My life isn’t horrible, though. I know that. The entitled millennial Sam doesn’t know that, but the socially awkward, Netflix binging, cheesy romance novel loving Sam (the real Sam) knows her life is awesome. One of my big goals in this major task I call “Learning to Adult” is to make entitled millennial Sam realize how much she has to be thankful for. Below is a handful of things I do to help me be more thankful. I wont lie, I am not an expert at these things, but they’ve all brought mea step closer to being sincerely thankful.
Replacing “have to” with “get to”
I used to complain about going to work every morning. Ask my best friend, she has the texts to prove it. Not work specifically, but more the getting up, getting ready, driving in traffic, then sitting at a desk all day just to drive in even worse traffic on the way home. Cry me a river, right? I work in a climate controlled building. Our office refrigerator is always full of drinks we get to have for free. We even have a snack box. I know, I have it good. I really do. But I still complained. Then I read somewhere to start replacing “have to” with “get to” to make you more appreciative of the life you lead. So the morning after I read that I said to myself, “I get to go to work”. And as I was leaving the office I said, “I get to go home”. Simply saying “get to” changed my entire perspective. So many people don’t have jobs, so many people don’t have a family to go home to. I have both.
Don’t ignore the negative
I find when I focus on positive things I am more thankful, and when I focus on negative things I am less thankful. As I grow, however, and rack up more years in life experience, I realize acknowledging the negatives in my life have actually started to make me more grateful. When I accept failure and negative experiences as part of this “journey I call life” it makes said failures a bit easier to endure. Try this: Recall a negative time in your life. Got it? Okay, now compare it to how your life currently is. Chances are you’ll feel grateful for not only your current situation, but also for the accomplishment of overcoming any challenges. Orrrr you thought of a negative time that hasn’t been completely resolved and is causing you to have an emotional breakdown. Fingers crossed it’s the first one.
Write it down
Ask me to write an analytical paper on the ethics of globalization and you will get a paper with large margins, 14pt font, and a lot of copy/pasted material. Also, it’s a week late. Ask me write a piece analyzing Adele’s new album using gifs from 30 rock and you’ll get in depth and original content. Also, it’s a week early. Ask me to write a list of what I’m thankful for and you’ll get yourself volumes. Making a list of what you’re thankful for is probably the easiest and quickest way to change your attitude. When I make this daily list I have to actively think about all that I’m thankful for, all the good in my life, all the challenges I’ve overcame. Apparently, our brains naturally focus on what goes wrong, so making a physical list of what we’re thankful for reinforces the brain to think positive thoughts. So take 5 minutes a day to write down what you’re thankful for, what challenges you’ve overcome, what you’re proud of. There is nothing too big or too small. Some people will put down that they “ran a marathon”. Others (me) will but down they “finally got around to watching that movie that was in my Netflix queue for 5 months”. Both are equal in importance. Once you write your list, treat yourself to a chocolate bar. It’s brain food. But none for any of you who put down “ran a marathon” on your list. You get quinoa.
Building a bridge and getting over it
Ever hear the saying “For everything there is a season”? It’s from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. The chapter it’s in is one of my favorites, but the first line of the chapter, “For everything there is a season”, is one of my favorite verses of all time. This may be because when I say it to friends and family what I really mean is, “build a bridge and get over it”. And part of me thinks that’s what Salomon was really trying to say when he wrote that chapter. Maybe he was tired of everyone complaining all the time. No? Okay then. Look, there is definitely is a time to mourn and a time to hurt, but that time shouldn’t be forever forever. I think I have this “get over it” mentality because I wish some one would have told me that when I was going through a hard time. Maybe then I wouldn’t have wallowed in those sad and negative feelings for so long. I know what it’s like to mourn and to feel pain, and to take solitude in those feelings, thinking they’ll never end. But I also know what it’s like to get through those feelings, coming out stronger and happier. It’s easy to forget there’s life on the other side of that mourning, that there is laughter and happiness. The only way to make it through the riptides of mourning is to build a bridge and get over it.
Share the love
Tell people you appreciate them. Show them if words aren’t your thing. But I will say, there is power behind the simple sentence of “I appreciate you”. When you show appreciation for others, they show appreciation for others. It’s a cycle and you can start it.