For the first time ever, I’m going to have a running “series” if you will on my blog.
This was inspired (no surprised here) by one of Brene Brown’s books where she mentioned she has a similar set-up on her blog. One of the chapters in The Gifts of Imperfection focuses on gratitude and joy, and it’s a similar message to what I’ve found in other books (as a side note, I wouldn’t be surprised if people start recommending or sending me fiction books instead so I can shut up about all this self-introspection stuff…).
Although it was probably something I thought about long before, after reading The Happiness Project a little over two years ago, happiness became a focus of my life. What could I do the cultivate more happiness and enjoy the life I have? But I’m slowly realizing it’s not really happiness that’s the end goal — it’s joy. One part of the chapter really stood out to me that made it apparent:
“…the Greek word for happiness is Makarios, which was used to describe the freedom of the rich from normal cares and worries, or to describe a person who received some form of good fortune, such as money or health. Robertson compares this to the Greek word for joy which is chairo. Chairo was described by the ancient Greeks as the ‘culmination of being’ and the ‘good mood of the soul.'”
Essentially, happiness is more likely to be connected to experiences and circumstances. And while we all want more happiness in our lives, ultimately the goal (at least for me) is to come from a place of gratitude and joy. Even when life sucks and I’m not particularly happy, I want to see the good around me and appreciate what I do have. It’s a way of life and something I have more control over (whereas I don’t necessarily have control over frustrating circumstances that make me unhappy).
While I have (and love!) my gratitude journal and we have a frequently used gratitude board at work, it feels like I could be doing more to really make it part of my life. And that’s where this Thankful Thursday series comes into play. I can’t promise it will be every Thursday, but I want to start somewhere.
It may seem like a standard response, but this Thursday I’m incredibly thankful for family — both my biological family and those who have become family to me. I’ve had a lot of life changes in the past two months, and I honestly have felt nothing but love and support from all those around me. The middle and little are there at the drop of a hat and the parents always give me 110% of their support and the needed reassurance that everything will be okay (which was particularly helpful during the whole car shopping experience…).
It’s also spectacular when friends become family. Lindsay, for example, is like a sister to me (and that’s saying a lot given how important the sisters are to me). And what’s amazing is that it’s not just her. I’ve created my own home away from home in Columbia. The friendships I’ve developed on a personal and professional level make me feel like I’m never alone or far from a comforting presence if I need it.
And that even includes those who aren’t in Columbia. In retrospect, reconnecting with my old roommate was very needed, and it was slightly surprising (although it probably shouldn’t have been) how quickly our letters dove into deep life chats and questions, reminding me once again of how much I love her presence in my life. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to hold on to friends from undergrad and that we’ve been able to see the changes and progress in one another’s lives.
Sadly I don’t think I always recognize just how vast my support system can be or let those people know how much they mean to me, but hopefully that changes over time as I embrace gratitude more.
This series may seem a bit self-indulgent, I admit, but hopefully it also inspires others to reflect on what they are grateful for in their everyday lives. I think in some ways it also helps remind me that life doesn’t have to be as hard or as complicated as we make it out to be. It really does boil down to the simple things in life. And for that, I’m incredibly thankful.