It’s hard to be grateful, sometimes. When you’re hefting around heavy student loans, dealing with a bad breakup or staring down multiple work deadlines in the face it’s easy to see the glass as decisively half empty.
Luckily, it’s the holidays. A time specifically set aside for us to be grateful. “The most wonderful time of the year” and “the season to be jolly,” as they say.
But how could this be true? We have the same problems in December that we had in June. Challenges, difficulties, frustrations and even tragedy know no holiday. They take no vacation. How do you build a sense of gratitude when your circumstances are largely the same? And seemingly, not very good?
We, at the Ask Angela Column, decided to look at some things that were frustrating us and then flip them around to see if we could unearth the hidden blessings. It was an amazing activity. We are thoroughly convinced that spending this holiday season being grateful will be the cure for anything that ails us (and you!)
Here is a list of the things we don’t always realize we’re grateful for
1. Our apartment
Even though it’s small, and though some of us share it with people who are always drinking our milk and using the last of the toilet paper. We’re living on our own and, for better or for worse, we’re making it work. That’s a big deal. We’ve created these little spaces in the world where we can recover from the day, cook some Ramen noodles and get a good night’s sleep. That’s something to be proud of and for which to be grateful.
2. Our education
Some of us are feeling the senior thesis blues. It’s, literally, coming to life and trying to kill us. In fact, we can hear it creeping toward our door (Ah!!) But, an ounce of perspective tells us that things will get better. What we’re staying up late to finish and working double shifts to afford — our education, formal or informal, will pay off. An investment in the mind and intellect is one of the best investments one could ever make.
3. Our body
It isn't perfect, but it's ours. What is a "perfect body," anyway? The one we have is a gift from God. It lets us experience this physical world in our own unique way. We want it to be healthy and we want it to last. Any time or effort spent hating it is a waste. So, instead, we’re deciding to be grateful.
Friendship drama is part of growing up. People say the wrong things, do the wrong things and, a lot of times, they don't say sorry. We can be grateful for them anyway. Relationships add texture to our lives; excitement and sociality and if we nurture them with things like positivity, forgiveness and love they get better with age.
5. Our parents
OK, most of us agree that we are always grateful for our parents; even when they are secretly (or not so secretly) wondering when we’re going to give them some grandchildren. But sometimes they don’t know about that gratitude. They worry that they didn’t raise us perfectly, or that our current "22-struggles" are some fault of theirs. We want to erase their worries. We’ve seen that gratitude truly comes to life when it is expressed. Our goal is to use this holiday season to give life to the gratitude we feel for our parents.
So this is our list. What we thought wasn’t so good has turned into a list of things we could never live without. We’ll keep building our list as the holiday seasons continues and hopefully throughout the rest of the new year. Because, like challenges, gratitude also knows no season, and need not take a vacation.
Angela has been very involved in the theater community, appearing in most recently For Colored Girls with People Productions, and Seven with Pygmalion Theater Company in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is having so much fun working on the column "Ask Angela" and hopes it can be a great benefit to readers!