This blog is a very special one for me! It was written by someone who I am so honoured to call my friend! Michelle and I met several months ago and we instantly connected and since then we have developed a friendship, business partnership, and mutual sharing of our gifts (through trades). I have no doubt the Universe brought us together for our mutual growth (because of her I am not afraid of the backend of my website, which let me tell you was an Everest like task!).
The growth, that I have had the pleasure to witness, in Michelle has been amazing and inspirational. When I asked her if she would be interested in writing about her experience with the gratitude challenge she bravely accepted and for that I am grateful! Thank you, Michelle, for showing up, being vulnerable and sharing your experience! Namaste
I planned to start this blog post with a life-altering quote or an earth-shattering line about the pursuit of happiness, but I am no authority on this topic. I can only speak to my path and why I chose to thank the universe regularly for this life and how the practice of gratitude has changed me and my belief system.
Growing up, I had a fascinating spiritual upbringing. My parents were on different ends of the spectrum when it came to religion. My father is an Atheist and thinks everyone on this planet is part of an experiment and my mother is a non-practicing Baptist but holds a profound connection to faith. Because my parents had such different views on the topic, they decided to let my brother, and I choose which path we wanted to take.
My brother decided to continue down a traditional path and joined the Mormon church (only later to be exiled, but that is a story for another day) when he was in high school. My journey wasn’t so quickly decided. I looked into different faiths and found I respected bits and pieces of each one, but nothing really took hold. So my journey continued. It was until I was in my forties that I realized my search was in the wrong place.
With all the discussions with Tara, I began researching more “new-age” teachings. Other practices teach self-kindness, mindfulness and gratefulness. To me, seeing this information was like finding the holy grail. The more I learned, the more I felt like I had found my tribe. My journey led me to a path with a fork in the road, and I chose to take the happiness trail.
Once I completed my research, it was time to put everything I learned into practice. To me, the logical place to start was with meditation.
Like so many people out there, I was always living in the past or the future, never in the present. Reliving conversations and playing the “what if” game day in and day out was driving me mad, literally. These toxic behaviours have caused years of anxiety and depression.
I need to be completely transparent with you, meditation is not an easy practice. It can take years and years of daily commitment to reach a true level of enlightenment. I haven’t reached this point, yet, but I’m committed to it. Yes, I’ve fallen off the wagon because I wasn’t seeing the results I thought I should have, but I think that’s part of the journey. We have a tendency to return to our comfort zone because we aren’t seeing the results fast enough and every once in a while we need to sway from the path to return to it (maybe that’s a life-altering quote I was looking for when I started writing this post…LOL).
The next cornerstone of my universal journey was a challenge from Tara, to incorporate gratitude into my daily routine. Typically, individuals who partake in gratefulness keep a journal and write daily affirmations or points they are grateful for. I’m a bit of a tech geek, so I found an app that works the same way as a journal. Plus, the bonus of using an app, reminders!
I started by listing 5 things I’m thankful for each day. Seems simple, right?! Not quite. Some days, it’s effortless to come up with 5 (or more) items, others, not so much. But, just like meditation, the more you practice, the easier it gets. Remember, what you’re grateful for doesn’t need to be super deep and profound, it can be as simple as your morning cup of coffee, or that great conversation you had with a friend. Don’t overthink it, just go with it!
Since applying gratitude into my day, I’m more inclined to see the positive in situations that would cause me to spiral into a bout of depression. It’s also helped me to stop overthinking and analyzing everything! But most importantly, it has allowed me to see the good in every day.
The most challenging component to my happiness pursuit is hands down self-care and self- kindness. To give you a bit of history, I was bullied as a child due to my size. I was always the hefty, bigger girl and I was relentlessly teased because I was different. This was definitely a contributing factor to my low self-esteem which in-turn, resulted in little to no self-worth. But, it also made me the person I am today. Strong, determined, and someone who can overcome adversity.
My self-care routine started with a few simple changes; drinking more water, incorporating healthier food choices into my diet, practicing yoga, and seeking professional help for my anxiety and depression.
I’ve been trading coaching with Tara for a couple of months now, and it has been one of the best choices I could have made. It has not only shown me how to re-establish my own worth, it allows me to accept my emotions and given me the tools needed to manage my anxiety and depression. I’m still working on the other aspects of self-care, so stay tuned.
I’ll leave you with one more thing – don’t forget to thank the Universe, God, Mother Earth, whoever your spiritual guide is. They are an essential part of gratitude.