Reading Davey Shafik’s recent blog post and the upcoming holiday got me to thinking about what I’m thankful for in my own life.
A while back, when I was feeling particularly stressed out, I came across this book which I treasure and continue to re-read whenever I’m feeling down. There is a lot of good advice in there for keeping things in perspective. One method in there that I’ve found useful is to keep a daily “thanks” journal. The idea is at the end of the day, you quickly jot the first 3 things that come to your mind that you are thankful for from the day. A great method of introspection - it really says a lot about what affects you and what you hold most dear. Whether you’re thankful for seeing a rainbow, getting a raise at work, or simply that the cop chose to pull over the person in front of you instead of you… whatever it is, you should write it down.
So looking back at my days, I see some common themes of things I’m very thankful for:
1) Kids and family. I don’t think a day went by when I didn’t find something funny my kids did or said that made me smile. I’m also very thankful for my husband of ten years and the great times we’ve shared. My parents also make me grateful for being around - they live 8 minutes from my house and I see them all the time. I’m so lucky to still have them with me. I was also able to visit with some distant relatives who made a surprise visit to Cincinnati this year, which I was very happy about.
2) Friends. Either from IRC, irl, OINK-PUG, or somewhere else. I’m very thankful for little things they do or say that make me smile and make the day better.
3) Opportunities. I’ve been blessed with some wonderful opportunities this year, and although I wasn’t able to take advantage of all of them, I’m still extremely grateful for them (my apologies for those employment opportunities I had to turn down because of my current situation). I’m also very blessed to have been able to attend a few PHP conferences this year and to have met in person some of the friends I only knew through IRC and email.
4) Dumb stuff. I find that I’m thankful for even dumb little stuff, which I’m not really sure why. I was thankful for shows like “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” for giving me an hour of dark humor. I was thankful for making it to the post office on time to mail some important letters. I was thankful that the guy at the car wash honored my coupon even though it had already expired (and I’m sure they do that for everyone).
5) Blessings in disguise. I kind of broke the rule a bit because I also wrote down some things that were bothering me – but my rationale is that if you write things down, sometimes it separates them from your brain and you won’t be so bothered by them. And it’s funny - looking back on the things that bothered me made me thankful for them. I was particularly bothered when I lost the novel I’d been working on. But it worked out for the better. I was worried that our October giftsforengineers sales were slower than we projected, but it got our asses in gear and now November’s kicking ass. I was very, very, very upset when I lost my diamond engagement ring at the beach (where we went for our 10th anniversary-oh the irony) but the ring was completely insured, and my husband and I were able to go ring shopping all over again. So although I can never replace the sentimental value of the ring, my husband and I were able to share the experience again 10 years later, and I was able to get a beautiful ring which I love… not exactly “thankful” I lost that ring, but “thankful” that it was at least insured and the insurance company was wonderful to deal with.
I still get depressed, stressed out, upset and frustrated, but I think those times are fewer and far between than they have been. Things are not always great, but somehow they seem to work out for the better eventually. I really do have so much to be grateful for - next time I’m complaining, won’t somebody tell me to stfu?
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