Find Happiness, Gain Thankfulness
BY: ASHLEY JOHNSON
When I first learned gratitude was our writing topic for the month, I panicked. To me, “gratitude” is such a huge word. For instance, I have an endless feeling of gratitude for my parents because they brought me into the world and helped me become an outspoken and hard-working woman. At the same time, I am also grateful for the life experiences that have made me who I am and for the way my dogs smother me when I get home from work. No matter what you’re thankful for, it’s important to keep that in mind and always strive to work towards happiness through thankfulness.
Despite all the chaos of everyone’s day-to-day life, I believe there is always something to be grateful for at the end of the day. Whether it’s the fact you have a roof over your head or the fact you have a job, or a family, or even a good friend you can rely on, there will always be one thing in your life you can cherish and be thankful for.
In the midst of a hectic work week, a stressful project or even a slight existential crisis at age 23, I always try to find time to look at the world around me, pay attention to my breathing. and just be thankful for the fact that I am alive and well.
How do I disconnect from the work emails, anxiety and exhaustion and focus on what’s important? Reading, writing and reflecting on the kind of person I am and who I really want to be.
Sometimes it is hard to unplug from the world when you’re caught up in your mind — a place where thoughts of work, stress and anxiety thrive. With this in mind, there’s nothing I enjoy more than getting completely lost in a book. As cliché as that may sound, you can’t focus on your own problems when you’re busy reading something you thoroughly enjoy.
Along with the distraction, books are a great way to practice thankfulness because every story has a message. Often times, these books have themes of keeping hope alive and finding happiness in life — it’s nearly impossible to not be inspired after reading a classic like To Kill A Mockingbird.
Hearing about life from a different perspective is one of the best ways to evaluate the best things about your life and the simplicity of things that make you thankful to be alive.
Writing anything, whether it be poetry, fiction or even running a blog, people tend to find pieces of their lives within the stories they tell. Picking up a pen and putting it onto paper always gives me a sense of relief — almost like therapy. Getting absorbed in a story while you’re writing engages your brain in a way that will boost your creativity and leave you feeling relieved because subconsciously, many people are able to work through their life’s problems when writing.
Next time you feel lost and forget the important things in life you are most grateful for, sit down in front of your favorite writing medium and create something new. Don’t worry about grammar, form or any other technicalities. Just write. Write because it makes you feel good and inspires you to remember what’s most important in your life.
Although it’s not always easy to reflect back on the decisions you have made throughout your existence, it’s important to regularly reflect on your life, pay attention to your breathing and make sure you are mentally and emotionally well. While thinking yourself in circles can often drive you crazy, it’s important to take note of the things you want to change in your life and the things you would like to improve upon.
By reflecting on what you are truly thankful for, you’ll become better aware of the elements of life that are the most important to finding your own success. Take accountability for the mistakes you may make because it’s a proven fact that everyone makes them. Figure out what’s making you unhappy or feeling unfulfilled and find a way to fix it.
When you give attention to the things you are thankful for, you’ll find it’s easier to make decisions and go after the things that mean a lot to you. Break away from toxic people, find a hobby you love and find a friend who will always be down for happy hour and conversations. It’s a lot easier to feel good if you’ve reflected and conquered all the things that make you sad.
All in all, consistently staying thankful can be difficult. With social media, fast-paced industries and pressure to be the support those around you need, it’s so easy to get caught up in the little details that don’t always make a difference when it comes to the big picture. Take some time out of your week and find your way to thankfulness. Life is too short to not pay attention to the things that truly mean the world to you.
Ashley Johnson is the managing editor of She Reads by day and an aspiring novelist by night. Blogging her way through college, Ashley graduated Northern Arizona University with a degree in English in 2017. When she’s not catching up on the best new reads from her favorite publishers, she can be found taking naps with her four loyal chihuahuas and claiming her rightful title of “VIB Rouge” at Sephora.