I believe in the power of gratitude. Gratitude is what grabbed hold of me by the collar and saved me from drowning in the suffocating waters that were my junior year of high school. Last spring, I found myself face-to-face—again—with a blank Word document on my computer screen and with a clock that read 1:48 a.m. I could just kick myself. How many times had I stayed up late enough writing a paper that I could hear the birds sing their first morning ballad or see the liquid gold rays of the sun, announcing a new day? How many times had I woken up exhausted the morning of a project deadline, vowing that I never wanted to stay up “that late” again? I was sick of it. So there I am, at two in the morning the night before this paper is due, stumped, tired, and frustrated. I did what I always do when I’m stressed out: I grabbed my journal and began to write. I scribbled furiously in two-inch-tall capital letters: “I’M SICK OF LATE NIGHTS. I’M SICK OF HOMEWORK. I’M SICK OF SCHOOL BECAUSE SCHOOL MEANS MORE HOMEWORK…” and on and on until every last one of the things that had been bothering me was written down on that paper.
When I was satisfied with the list, I closed my eyes, sat back, and took in one deep, long breath. Without thinking, I turned to the next fresh page in my journal and began writing, “I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful for my home. I’m grateful for my twin sister. I’m grateful for…” I couldn’t stop. Line after line after line, I wrote. From “I’m grateful for having a roof over my head” to “I’m grateful for Snickers bars,” I wrote. I wrote it all. I wrote until my hand cramped up and I couldn’t write anymore. Six pages of single-spaced, small handwriting I wrote. Again, I took a deep breath in, soaked up the moment, reveled in the release of tension and the inundation of peace.
I then flipped back a few pages in my notebook to the beginning of the “I’M SICK OF” series. Five pages of “I’M SICK OFs”. In big handwriting. Double-spaced. It was at that moment I realized no matter how many things I there were in my life that caused me anxiety, there were so many more reasons to cause me joy.
After that night, I continued to keep a gratitude journal. I add to it every now and then, but mostly I revisit it, to remind me how truly fortunate I am and how many things there are in life to be grateful for.
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