I have been struggling over the last few weeks with the meaning of my existence. Ya know, just a light topic to ponder during the day. Colleagues think I am a blast!
In actuality, it is not so much pondering the meaning of my existence as it is pondering what I want to get out of this life. What do I want to accomplish? Where will I be in five years? These heavy questions can weigh me down very quickly, and I have been searching for a way to lift myself out of it when I move from productive questioning to destructive judgment.
I have found that one exercise is particularly helpful in stabilizing me, at the least, and boosting me, at the most. It is the practice of gratitude. As soon as I catch myself wallowing in self-pity or feeling like I am not contributing enough, I think of something for which I am grateful. Today it was a family soccer game. Jon tried to score on Mario. Maria and I ran around waiting for our turn. Jon and I tried to see how many head balls we could do to one another before the ball fell to the ground (don’t ask, it was not impressive). We all laughed together at Mario’s dives and Maria’s antics. It was a most enjoyable half of an hour as the sun began to set. It allowed me to remember to not get so wrapped up in the analysis of everything but to just relax (not a mainstream word in my vocab).
I have an incredible family and I have a wonderful home and I mean so much to M&M and Jon and friends and cousins. I don’t have to solve world hunger in order to have accomplished something in my life. That is not to say that I want to cease questioning where I am and what I want. To the contrary, this practice of gratitude actually motivates me to want to do more, to challenge myself, to think about what I want to do in the years ahead.
I am trying to consciously practice this art of gratitude everyday because I feel happier and less anxious when I do it. It relaxes me. And it is not that hard. I could look solely to M&M everyday for something for which to be grateful but I can also look to Jon (most days!), colleagues, the grocery store, you name it. I think we have so many things happen to us through the day, and we encounter so many people, that we could all fill up our lives practicing gratitude.
Remember that teenager who held the door for you or that old lady who smiled so sweetly at you? Remember when someone laughed at your lame joke or told you how great you looked? Remember when your child looked up at you and said “I love you?” Remember when your partner gave you a goodbye kiss? Remember when your favorite song came on the radio? Remember when you spotted a cardinal on the rose-bush?