All week I thought about postponing this post and writing instead about the election, an event that has deeply impacted America, the world, and me personally. I've spent hours and hours writing about it, but I haven't yet found the right words to share here. It is important, and I know I cannot stay silent about it, the way I often have when it comes to politics.
But, for now, let's focus again on the importance of gratitude. (For Part I, click here.) No matter what is happening in the world, or in your own personal life, gratitude should never be taken for granted. It is a powerful force, and it is one of the quickest and most effective ways to combat stress or anxiety. I highly encourage you to write your own gratitude list this week, to focus on the things you're appreciative of.
Yes, I'm one of those annoying people who thinks of food more as necessary nourishment than as enticing enjoyment, but I do have a few favorites (pizza! cookies!) and I'm thankful for the joy I experience when I eat the things I love. I'm also grateful for the nutrition I receive when I eat the things I know I should. ;)
While I don't believe in actual magic, I'm so entranced by the concept of it. I love imagining that there could be magic, allowing myself to let go of reason for a moment or two. I see magic in many places -- a shooting star, a close call, a kiss -- and, even though I know it's not real, I'm thankful for it all the same.
Connecting with other people feels pretty good, doesn't it? Whether we're talking about sharing a laugh with a stranger or a bed with a loved one, the moments we look at someone else and feel connected and understood are kinda amazing. Almost magical. ;) I'm so thankful for everyone I've ever connected with.
I have a lot of ideas. Like, a LOT. Sometimes I'm frustrated by how many ideas I have, all of the glimmers of what-could-be written in notebooks or jotted on scraps of paper, but I'm also thankful that I never, ever fail to have more and more and more ideas. Yes, most of them will simply remain words on a page, but I love that they're there nonetheless.
Isn't art just amazing? There are so many mediums, so many kinds, so many outrageous and astounding concepts. I don't think there's nearly enough time for me to see all of the art I want to see in this lifetime, but I'll settle for whatever I can. Every piece of artwork is beautiful in its own way, and I consider an honor to experience it.
I don't daydream as much as I'd probably like (who has the time?!), but it's such an interesting and fun experience to let you mind wander to places far away from reality. I'm thankful for the daydreams I've had and, more importantly, for the fact that daydreaming is even possible!
Imagine what the world would be like if we were all exactly the same? It would be absolutely awful! So boring! So banal! I love being uniquely me, and I love that everyone I know is uniquely him/herself. When you're younger, embracing individuality can be tough, but the older I get, the more I happily embrace it.
My favorite place to be? Home. I'm a total homebody, and I'm so grateful for the fact that I get to spend a lot of time at home (with my pup!). For some people, home is just a place to crash at the end of the day, but, for me, home is my safe place, my recharging station, my cozy spot filled with things I love.
... and speaking of things I love, I love me some whim-whams. Also know as trinkets, these are those small, decorative objects you have around the house. I don't have many of these things (often people walk into my home and exclaim about how bare it is!), but the ones I do own, I love feverishly.
I don't know how much time I have left (none of us do for sure), but I'm grateful for the 33+ years I've been given so far. Time is such a strange thing -- sometimes it drags, sometimes it flies -- but we're all so lucky to have whatever time we can. I hope I'm able to have lots more time, but I'm thankful for whatever I'll be given.
61. SNAIL MAIL
Snail mail is my favorite kind of mail. It's so incredibly day-brightening to receive something in the mail that isn't a bill or a marketing ploy. It's great to receive fun mail, but I love sending it even more. I'm thankful to have so many wonderful people around the world to send snail mail to!
Mornings are all about energy for me. Because I don't eat as healthfully as I should (I'm working on it...), my energy tends to drain as the day goes on. Still, I'm so thankful for those jolts of vitality early in the day. Just thinking about the difference between the end of the day and the beginning makes me so grateful for bursts of energy!
Speaking of not eating so well... I love sugar and sweet treats. I know, I know -- sugar is pretty bad for you (especially the artificial, non-natural kind), but I have such a sweet tooth. I love a good chocolate chip cookie or piece of candy, and even though I try not to over-indulge, I'm glad for life's sweet treats.
This might seem like an odd thing to be thankful for, but imagine how odd life would be without pain. It might sound, in theory, like a good thing, but then I think about how much I've learned from pain, how much stronger I've become because of tough times. Pain sucks, but I'm thankful for what it's taught me.
Every time it rains and I see the sun trying to push through the clouds, I race outside and scan the sky for rainbows. There's nothing more beautiful to me than the sight of every color painted in an arch across the sky. Plus, I think rainbows are such amazing metaphors -- without both the sun and the clouds, we'd never see their beauty.
Another new word I recently uncovered is vellichor, or the strange wistfulness of used bookstores. I'm so incredibly thankful that, just this month, I discovered an amazing used bookstore near my house (check out my haul here). There's something so sad and beautiful about books that've been read and released back into the wild.
I'm not the best at intimacy -- it's a bit hard for me to open up to people sometimes -- but when I do, it's such a thrill to be truly connected with someone else. Intimacy is connection on a different level and, whether it's sharing intimate secrets with a friend or getting physically intimate with someone, I'm grateful for the times I experience it.
To forgive is the greatest form of freedom, and it's taken me a really long time to realize how powerful it can be to let go of anger and pain. It also feels great to be forgiven when you're truly sorry for your actions. I'm thankful, too, for the opportunity to write Forgiveness this year and explore the topic in detail.
Stillness isn't my forte, but I try to at least have some time each day when I'm not doing anything (including looking at my phone...). It's so nice to just be still in this ever-moving world we live in, and I'm thankful for the moments I've been able to stay still, breathe deeply, and appreciate the moment.
Giving gifts is one of the most fulfilling activities in life, in my humble opinion. It's so fun to think about someone you care about and imagine what s/he might want as a gift. It feels so good to make someone happy, even if it's just with a small package. I don't have the means to give as many gifts as I'd like to, but I'm thankful for the ones I'm able to give.
How amazing does it feel when someone encourages you? Or, better yet, when you encourage someone else? It's downright awesome is what it is. One thing I'm so grateful for is my ability to channel my enthusiasm into encouragement. Nothing feels better than motivating someone else!
As a former nail-biter, manicures have special meaning for me. I bit my nails (badly) for over 30 years, and to have stopped that terrible habit is something I consider a great accomplishment. It might not sound like a big deal, but I have some major self-control issues so it's huge for me, and I'm thankful for my polish-ready nails.
An odd one, for sure, but researching is something I love doing, especially online research. It makes me so happy when a friend asks me about something and I have to go searching for it (an example: this week my aunt asked me to search for young adult books taking place in Hawai'i!). I love, love, love the hunt!
Being able to share another's feelings isn't something we're all able to do and, admittedly, I struggle with it at times, but I'm thankful for the moments I've experienced and for the moments others have been empathetic toward me. It's hard to let ourselves feel so much for others, but it's a wonderful, connecting experience.
I've made a lot of mistakes (who hasn't?), and sometimes I bemoan my own foolishness. But, if I'm honest, some of life's really fun moments are the result of foolish decisions. No, we shouldn't do every foolish thing that comes to mind, but a bit of foolishness isn't such a bad thing. And it surely leads to great stories after the fact.
I'm a sucker for a good tryst. I'll spare you the details of my personal experiences, but I'll tell you this: even when they're bad news, they're still so good. A mixture of secrecy, lust, and sometimes can lead to disaster (believe me!), but I wouldn't trade the in-the-moment rush of a good rendezvous.
Who doesn't love a good story? And, just as good, a good storyteller? You know those people who can captivate a room, even while telling a pretty banal story? I love those people. I love that charm and charisma, the way it draws people in and makes everything seem interesting. I'd love to be someone like that, but I'll settle for thankfully listening to them.
As Elf says, "Smiling is my favorite!" Not only am I thankful for the ability (and desire) to smile, but I'm even more grateful for every smile that's been sent my way. How great does it feel when someone smiles at you? So good, right? Here's a little smile for you right now... :)
I have a pretty wild imagination and, while this can lead to unnecessary anxiety, it's also pretty fantastic sometimes. I'm glad that I'm able to vividly play things out in my mind, especially things that could never happen in real life. It's a bit odd sometimes, but mostly awesome.
Just like pain, I'm thankful for the mistakes I've made. If I could click undo on some of them, would I? You bet. But, since the past cannot be changed, I find it really useful to try to learn something from each mistake and move forward. Making mistakes isn't always the most fun, but you sure can learn a lot from them!
81. GOOD VIBES
You know how you just feel good around some people? I love that feeling, especially when it happens with someone you don't know well. It might sound a bit woo-woo and mystical to talk about people's "vibes," but I really do feel like people give off energy in some way and it's awesome when you encounter another's good energy.
When something good happens that you weren't expecting, that's serendipity. When you find something amazing when you're not looking for it, that's serendipity. Not only is it a beautiful word (so fun to say!), but it's also a beautiful concept to experience. I'm thankful for every serendipitous thing that's ever happened to me.
Memory can be both the illness and cure. Obviously, painful memories aren't my favorite. But I'll take them if that means I can sometimes daydream about the great experiences I've had. Also, on a basic level, I'm thankful that I can remember things because I imagine the loss of memory is terrifying.
Perhaps it's because I was born with alliteration on my tongue -- Danielle DiPirro -- but for whatever reason, I really love it. (See: Positively Present) Language in general is fascinating to me (so jealous of you linguistics out there!), but there's something so soothing and musical about alliteration.
If there were no Earth, there'd probably be no us. It's honestly kinda insane that I'm writing this from a giant globe spinning around in the sky, to be honest. I'm so thankful to be here though, and I'm thankful you're all here with me. It's a crazy time for humanity now, but we're all here in this place, which is pretty amazing.
86. SOCIAL MEDIA
It might seem like an odd thing to be thankful for, but if it weren't for social media, I would never be able to do all the things I do. Online, I've met so many people I never would have met otherwise. I've connected with people all over the world. Information overload can be a problem, yes, but I believe the more informed we are, the better.
You know those amazing (usually late night) chats you have with those you love, the ones that delve deep and leave you thinking about the world in a new way? Those are the kinds of conversations I'm grateful for. They are rare, but they are incredibly wonderful.
I'm so fortunate to live in a place, surrounded by decent people, in which I feel safe most of the time. Yes, there are moments when safety is evasive (one of the downfalls of being a woman...), but most of the time, I feel protected and loved. Most of the time I live without fear, and I don't take for granted my good luck to know safety.
Put glitter on something and I'll most likely love it. It's such a small, superficial thing, but when it hits the light and glimmers and shines, it really does seem like IRL magic. As the holiday season approaches, more and more things are covered in glitter and I'm thankful for each and every sparkle I see.
This one is a bad habit of mine, but, man, do I love indulging in a bit of accubation (aka, eating or drinking while lying down). Give me a good book, a snack, a blanket, and my bed or couch, and I'm in accubation heaven. I know it's probably not ideal health-wise, but it sure is cozy.
Whether we're talking about emotion or physical healing, I've done a lot of it over the past few years. It's hard work, but it's also kinda miraculous, the way time often eases pain and heals us. I'm so fortunate that I've been given opportunities and environments that are so conducive to healing.
Friyay! We all love it when the weekends roll around, don't we? Weekends, for me, don't mean what they used to because I usually work seven days a week, but recently I've been trying to actually relax on the weekends (... as I type this on a Saturday afternoon, haha). Whatever the day of the week, the weekend vibe is something for which to be thankful.
Having a car (and convenient public transportation) is something I take for granted far too often. It's usually only when something's wrong with my car that I notice how lucky I am to have access to one. Being able to get to and from places independently is something I'm truly grateful for.
To be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of change. I love the comfort of consistency. And yet -- I learn so much, I grow so much, when things change. It's not easy to do (or accept) sometimes, but change is, cliche as it sounds, one of life's only constants, and I'm thankful that I'm getting better at embracing it.
Kissing is pretty great, isn't it? If we could all do some serious making out every day, I bet we'd all be a lot happier. But maybe the fact that we don't usually do it daily is one reason it's so great. Either way, I'm a big fan of a great kiss, and I'm thankful for every smooch I've received or given.
Nerdy as it sounds, I love learning. When I was younger, I didn't appreciate how lucky I was to go to good schools, to have encouraging and intelligent teachers, to be surrounded by people striving to better themselves. Now I realize how fortunate I have been, and I hope I am forever learning new things.
How cool is it that we're aware of ourselves and the world around us? It's something we often take for granted, but it's pretty crazy that we are so aware -- both in a literal and metaphorical sense. I work on my personal mindfulness all the time and, in doing so, I have an opportunity to be thankful for the awareness I've developed.
Someone once asked me, "What's the one thing you couldn't live without?" Without thinking, I exclaimed, "Words!" I still stick by that statement. I love books, I love lyrics, I love writing. Words have power beyond almost anything else, and I revere (and am so thankful for!) them.
Can you be grateful for gratitude? I'm gonna say yes! I'm thankful that I'm able to feel grateful, and I'm thankful for the gratefulness I see in others. Gratitude, I'll be honest, has changed my life in so many ways, especially in relation to anxiety. It's almost impossible to grateful and anxious at the same time, and I'm thankful for that.
I'm so incredibly thankful for YOU! Thank you for reading this list. Whether you're a new reader or you've been around for the past 7+ years, I'm honored to write for you and share whatever I can with those of you who are willing to read my words. Thank you for reading my words and, more importantly, thank you for simply existing out there, being you. :)
When things are difficult (as they are for many of us right now), staying thankful can be a challenge, but never forget that, no matter what, gratitude will only improve a situation. Stay positive. Stay grateful. Doing so won't necessarily change anything, but it will change your attitude, and that can make all the difference in how you see, and interact with, the world.