Hey everyone! Can you believe it’s nearly December already? It feels like a breeze.
Seems like it was only a while ago that I wrote my first gratitude list on the blog. 52 weeks later, the practice (to stop being an ungrateful gal) became a weekly habit, and then eventually it evolved again into a daily reflection before I finally stopped doing it in public and decided to count my everyday blessings in private.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned out of blogging is that, just because I’m so inspired by a lot of outgoing, open-book, extroverted bloggers who don’t mind revealing intimate details about themselves doesn’t mean I have to reveal the same intimate details on the same intimate topic even when I’m uncomfortable doing it. It’s a real biggie – some of the things I’ve let loose on the blog have been stuff I regret saying out loud, because a) They don’t provide value for you readers, b) I don’t get solutions by ruminating on them, and c) i can’t imagine saying these things to people I barely know. Based on what I’ve learned, I grew a much bigger respect for bloggers who persevered through the critical opinions of others about them and what they do. Well, basically, I’ve always admired people who really embody the I-don’t-care-what-other-people-think-it’s-their-business attitude without faking it out. I mean, who doesn’t?
That said, the more I try to find things everyday to be grateful for, the more I find private things to be thankful for that I’m uncomfortable revealing to the public ;)
This post is different. While I’ve learned that practicing gratitude privately works better for me, I’d like to make this one a public one because I believe it can inspire others (i.e. provide you value, b) prevent me from over-thinking, and c) I can imagine telling them even to people I barely know. As part of MSW at USC‘s Gratitude Blog Carnival campaign, which starts this week through December 3, I’m sharing the top 3 things I’m grateful for in 2013.
Vast body of research findings confirm that those who regularly practice gratitude have increased mental and physical health, stronger and more meaningful relationships, and report a heightened sense of joy. As a nerd, you know I read these things on a daily basis. I just find these studies motivating in my journey to repel negative thoughts that keep coming to my head and keep moving forward to enjoy a higher quality of life.
Ultimately, I believe God’s will is for each and every one of us to be thankful all the time. Perhaps we can respond in some way to that gratitude with a heart of thanksgivings – even on days when we’re not eating turkey and all. With that in mind, I want to end the year with a positive note. I hope by doing so, I encourage you to do the same.
3 Things I’m Grateful For In 2013
1. Finally making a living doing what I love.
I meet many interesting, inspiring, and like-minded people through my profession (plus: it’s a profession that allows me to work in my sweatpants). I’m very blessed to have been given the opportunity to write in my previous full-time job, so I made sure I was really delivering it every single time I received an assignment. I got the most out of every experience and really learned a lot.
Now … I can finally call myself a writer!
2. Having finished a half-marathon.
I mean … As I’m typing these words, I still can’t believe I really did it. It feels as if it was all a dream and reality is another different world, but I did cover the 13.1-mile distance from start to finish.
I’ve always gawked from afar and say my oohs and aahs in the face of long-distance finishers, especially during the annual NWM when I was living in SF – empowering race, breathtaking course, and practically perfect weather – what more could I ask for? Then I realize I was holding myself back the whole time. I never found the courage to sign myself up, even though my training was much more intense than the present.
But now, I can finally say … I DID IT! I finished a half-marathon! And the best part of it? I did it in my own country!! (as opposed to being a classified alien with a student visa hehehe)
3. Able to smile again.
Beginning from my depression era (began circa end of 2009) onward till before 2013 came around, I stopped believing in the existence of people who can get to know you and be friends with you without judgments except your own family. Truth is, I’ve been yearning for lifelong relationships with people I share mutual affinity for, by providing each other unconditional support and such, but somehow you just fall victim to other people’s opinions of you – from the tiniest disagreements to the most critical comments – especially those that went about behind your back.
No matter how many times I repeated the mantra “What other people think of you is none of your business”, I still get icky when people misunderstood me. I hate being misunderstood.
So I gave up the idea of true and authentic relationships. I became bitter, resentful, and hate myself for every “wrong” thing that somebody remarks about me. Before I knew it, I’m the one who judge others and turn my back against the world, angry at every single thing that is “wrong” with society at large. Sooner or later, taking notice of what could go wrong (instead of what could go right) became my second nature, and my worldview of this earthly life changes 180°.
People who care have been telling me that, while it’s true that there will always be judgmental people who hold preconceived notions about you, it doesn’t mean that you have the license to stop bothering them at all. Do your part nonetheless, and smile and be gracious first. However the other party responds to you is their fraction. What matters is you did extend your hand and try with all honesty to bridge a genuine relationship.
It’s not that I suddenly learned how to stop obsessing over what other people think (and subject myself to manipulation, people-pleasing, and fake-smiling even when I’d rather not). I’m just thankful now that I no longer let those things get in the way of enjoying my own life, my own joys, my own hobbies, interests, dreams, aspirations and endeavors in spite of these judgments.
To that, I’m thankful for the honest people in my life who share these same values. I’m smiling :)