Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

So, I don’t really do any Facebook trends or public displays of things. I like to be a grateful person privately, just like I usually like to tell people I appreciate them privately. I also like to be a thankful person consistently because I recognize that a grateful heart is a happy heart. I like to look for my blessings when I am down because that refocuses my attention onto good things.

I fear that my cynical nature and sarcastic sense of humor puts off the impression to a lot of people that I am ungrateful and unhappy. This is far from the truth. I actually have a lot of things and people in my life to be thankful for, and I’ve been an incredibly thankful girl since a very young age, believe it or not. I’ve always been able to recognize that there are those who do not have the things that I have, and who have it so much harder than I do.

Even though I’d rather just be a consistently thankful person, I figure an outpouring of thanks once a year is acceptable on this occasion, and I put together a list of things I am thankful for. Read on if you care; if not, just know that I recognize my blessings.

*Disclaimer: Many of these things may come off as me being egotistical, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be genuinely grateful for things about yourself because we were blessed (and cursed) with certain qualities.

Things I am grateful for:

1.       My capable body and good health. I have struggled with body image since I was a little girl. But I work out almost every day, and I work out hard. I find that when I focus on the things my body can do, I am much more grateful for it. I rarely get sick anymore, things function mostly perfectly, and I am not prone to injury. I’m grateful for this.
2.       I am grateful for the skill set Heavenly Father blessed me with. There are a lot of things I could do to support myself. I have a side job writing right now and believe this is a talent I was blessed with. Being organized and prepared has kept me sane and made my life and others’ lives much easier. Playing music makes me and others around me happy. These are a few talents I am grateful for.
3.       Having a strong mind has been good and bad at times. I am grateful that I have the ability to slow down my thought process and think things through logically, reasonably, and thoroughly. I might be an emotional person, but my brain works pretty well. I have no chemical imbalances or learning disabilities, and I’m glad for it.
4.       Commitment. In general I am grateful for commitment. I’m grateful that I am the kind of person who does what she says she is going to do, and tries her best to do it. People can trust me, and I can trust myself. My commitment to everything I do has blessed me and others.
5.       Good work ethic. I am a pretty focused person and can sit down and work quickly and completely. I find the most efficient way to get something done and then I do it. I know a lot of people struggle with this, with being efficient, and with staying focused. So I am grateful that my life is easier because of the work ethic I was born with.
6.       Education and learning. I love learning things. I love learning from other people, depending on the approach they take with me. I like to observe rather than be lectured. But I am so grateful for my education and for what it has taught me in terms of researching thoroughly and looking at all sides of an issue. I love ongoing education and community classes, like the stress management class I was able to take recently. I love self-help books and am grateful for people who write about things in such depth that I can have a greater understanding of things. I love Pinterest and things like it because of everything I learn there. I’m thankful for blogs and the people who run them or share their knowledge in other ways. Learning empowers me and makes my life easier.
7.       Observation. I have been blessed with the ability to learn from other people’s mistakes. This has saved me a lot of pain and struggle because I’ve understood the long-term possibilities and repercussions for my decisions. I’m so glad I’m not the type of person who has to touch the hot stove.
8.       The internet. I just don’t know what life was like without it anymore. The ease of finding answers to any questions, the speed of communication, and the ability to keep in touch with old friends is a blessing.
9.       Attitudes and mindsets. I never solely focus on the negative. I see a challenge in front of me and try to laugh it off or tell myself it’ll get better. I’m not overly optimistic or idealistic, but I recognize the value of these attitudes and know that we attract things to ourselves with our attitudes. People say I am lucky. No, I just believe I’ll win! Saying you are unlucky or have the worst luck is just a mindset, and if you keep believing it, it will be true. The body follows the mind, and I am grateful I have been blessed to know this for a number of years because I believe in healing and accomplishing through the power of thinking.
10.   Laughter and humor and sarcasm. Again, I know people perceive my sense of humor in the ways that they want to. But I think my life is really funny sometimes. It was stressful and frustrating having my flight get cancelled the other night, but surely there was some humor to be found there. I’ve yet to think that one through, but still, I wasn’t crying or angry. I love making things funny because life is better that way.
11.   Good books. I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like to. But I love the ability of books to relax me and put me in a different place. I love learning from books, even if they are fictional. Even in a Harry Potter book I find the character traits I admire and want to adopt into my life.
12.   Good movies. Movies also take me away, either entertaining me or helping me to improve. Learning from others’ experiences can happen in movies, too. I’ve had many movies, just like books, change the way I see things and therefore change my life.
13.   A good job. My job is very, very stressful sometimes. I feel like it is almost impossible to be great at what I do because there are so many components to good teaching that other people don’t think of until they try it. But I don’t dread going to work every day. My kids this year are amazing young people who do dumb things sometimes, and I suppose it’s a privilege to get to set them straight and help them think a little more clearly (or it might be a lost cause). ;) Having my side job writing is a financial comfort as well.
14.   Shelter and a bed. I have a nice apartment to live in that keeps me out of the sometimes fierce Utah cold. When I see people wandering the streets and know that there are many people losing their homes and going to shelters, I think of how blessed I am to have a warm bed to sleep in with a roof overhead.
15.   Having a car is something I’ve really never had to be without. But because of that, I imagine what it’d be like without one and realize I’m not sure I would be able to do it. It’d be so hard. I’m grateful I can afford a car and that everything works on it. Oh, it’s cute too!
16.   Food. Seriously. I love food. I love good food, and I love bad food (which is unfortunate). I love making food, and will try just about anything. My mom’s cooking is great, and I could love coming home just for the food. I’m grateful I have food in my fridge and the ability to grocery shop when I need to.
17.   I am thankful to the Harens who brought me into the LDS church when I was a little girl. I’m thankful for the Duvalls who kept taking me after they moved. I’m not sure where I’d be without it today. These people are wonderful for loving me and serving me in the ways that they have. So many others in church kept me going and showed me how things needed to be done.
18.   The gospel itself. I love the perspective and the hope the gospel gives me in hard times. I’m grateful for a Savior who shows me all the time how I need to be better, and for giving me a way to do so.
19.   Good men. This is kind of all over the place, but I love the good men in the world who treat me well or treat other women well so that I know that there is hope in finding a good one. I need to convince myself that I deserve one of these guys. Then maybe I’ll get one to keep.
20.   Good friends. My patriarchal blessing says I have been blessed with good friends. It is so true. I love my friends who bring me soup and breadsticks when I’m sick and want to see me when I’m visiting home. I have good friends who will drive me to and from the airport twice in one frustrating night or once at 5:30 in the morning. Friends who will listen to me rant about a bad day for a few minutes, and friends who will laugh with me and watch movies with me. I love the good people in my life.
21.   Grandparents. I know a lot of people haven’t been lucky enough to know or be close to their grandparents. My grandma is a big part of my life, and I’m grateful for her listening ear, her thoughtfulness, and her generosity. I’m grateful for my grandpa, for his stories and for his raw emotions in his later years, for everything he has taught me in my life. Grandparents are great.
22.   Last but not least, I’m thankful for my parents. Heaven knows kids are their parents’ greatest critics, and my parents haven’t done things perfectly. But they are genuinely good people, and I am so grateful for their examples of generosity to other people. They’d do anything for anyone, and they have done everything for me. I am blessed with good parents who are present in my life.

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