my secret to getting out of a funk: practice gratitude

Posted on September 7, 2011

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Today I feel compelled from deep within to set aside reading news and such and explore gratitude.  And I don’t mean just rattling off things I know I should be grateful for, but feeling it down to my core. Literally feeling (emphatic pause) grateful. And how that changes my mindset and the way i interact with the world and myself.

Life is stressful, and stress is relative.  So I don’t think my life is more stressful than someone else’s, it’s all a matter of perspective.  My perspective on my life right now happens to be that it’s really fucking crazy right now.  I carry a lot of responsibility, especially at work.  And lately work has been crazier than ever as I have a month and three quarters to finish all my current projects, hand off ongoing ones, and move back across the ocean.  So I’ve been pretty stressed with that and overwhelmed with about one bajillion emotions swirling inside of me due to the fact that I am leaving. And the fact that my partner is on the other side of the globe and relationships take a certain amount of communication that is hard to come by. And just… stuff. You know? Life stuff.  So basically, i’ve gotten stuck in this place of “fake it till ya make it” while not really feeling the flow and ease that comes with being centered and connected.

Last friday my office put on an Annual Conference, and our keynote speaker discussed how beneficial to our holistic well-being it is to do two things periodically throughout our day: 1. Take 60 seconds to stop what you’re doing and focus only on your breathing, and 2. Think of something you’re grateful for. It was exactly what I needed to hear to realize why I was so.. discombobulated.

When I feel grateful and take the time to quiet my mind I feel a lot of personal power; not the kind of power I can wield over others, but the kind of power that allows me to deal with issues in an authentic, balanced, less reactive way and accomplish things that might normally feel heavy or hard with ease.  As a society we focus so much on the negative aspects of our lives while merely glossing over things that are incredibly positive and inspiring.  When you drive home from work, or to the store.. where does your mind wander?  How often do we think about or even tell people how fucking awesome our lives are? Not enough, because we don’t want to .. what?  Feel guilty or like we’re showing off?  I say fuck that, we should appreciate what we can.

In general I’m grateful for the friends/ohana I have here in Hawaii and back home.  I am thankful for the people I have worked with, both in college – other student leaders/organizers and staff and faculty – and here in Hawaii.  Even though it’s easy to feel so alone sometimes (compulsory negativity, anyone?), I have some of the most kind hearted, giving, kick ass people in my life, it really is ridiculous and I often wonder how I am so blessed.  The following are just the most recent examples – the ones that smacked me upside the head today and said “dude, why are you in a funk? you have some of the most outstanding people in your life. Soak up the good vibes”:

1. Last weekend I went camping with my “hawaiian family”, and it was probably one of the most crazy fun nights I’ve had since I moved here. I payed for it in a major way the next day in mind, body and soul but those memories are well worth it.  Every time I hang out with them I feel so lucky to have been welcomed into this wonderful ohana.  I don’t see them all the time, but when I do it’s always amazing. Such fun, smart, crazy, loving people who really have made my experience here in hawaii more fulfilling and welcoming.

2. Last night my room mate came out and showed me her new Brita water bottle and I was psyched, i told her i had just seen a commercial for those and thought it was super cool.  She walks away, comes back out and says “here, have the extra one. I dunno if you like purple” Number one, purple is my favorite color. Number two, SCORE! BPA free and 1 filter saves something like 150 plastic bottles.

3. Yesterday at work, the executive director comes in and says “I made a vegetarian dish for dinner last night and I brought you some, it’s in a tupperware in the fridge”. Seriously?! It sort of blew my mind.  How many people can say their boss is that considerate? I’m going to have it for dinner tonight! *update, it’s delicious*

4. Tonight someone i love and respect so much but haven’t talked to in a while emailed me a job announcement they’d seen for a position at Stanford’s Women’s Community Center because they heard I was moving back to California.

I start practicing gratitude and calming my mind and then BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM! Things to be super grateful for start piling up.  Coincidence?  Maybe.  It’s not like may days haven’t been filled with a hell of a lot of drama, awkwardness, heartache, stress, etc. But by feeling grateful my entire spirit is uplifted and I can deal with the rest in a more grounded way with a much better, less reactive, perspective.  It also helps me behave in ways that reflect the best me possible – the most authentic, kind, grounded version.