I’ve titled this post ‘My Gratitude Journey,’ though it is mainly about a piece of artwork I spent a year creating and the story behind it. Warning, I have to get a little vulnerable to tell this story.
The Back Story
I’d like to start from the beginning. I was in a toxic relationship which ended in November—though he continued to harass me until I went to Cambodia in January. On my way to Cambodia I lost my phone, and with it, his demeaning text messages. I then spend 3 weeks in Cambodia exploring and learning about the culture. A lot of this trip was spent learning about human trafficking both in the country and in the world. I spent time with women, men, AND children who had gotten themselves out of sex slavery. I also witnessed a lot of poverty and kindness throughout this trip. (If you’re interested in learning more about my trip, I wrote about it here).
The trip was the easy part though. Arriving home was incredibly difficult for several reasons. First, cultural reintegration kicked my butt! Getting used to carrying a phone around again, going back to class, listening to people complain—it was all incredibly overwhelming. So much so that I found myself experiencing incredible anxiety every time my phone went off and angry every time someone complained. The second reason getting back in the United States was hard, was my ex-boyfriend. He started contacting me again, and admittedly, that is probably why I became so scared of my phone. I had to turn it on silent because every time it made a noise or vibrated I felt panicky, and counseling didn’t seem to be doing me any good.
It was at this point that I felt the need to begin practicing gratitude. I couldn’t tell you what inspired the actual execution of my gratitude project. I don’t know if I had been browsing Pinterest, or if I had walked by the art building and had seen something similar. Not sure. But I decided to fill a large 18 by 24 size paper with things I was grateful for. The catch was to make it aesthetically pleasing. I wrote each word in a different handwriting and in all different sizes.
Every day I began adding a few more items that I was grateful for. I found myself writing down more than the indented 3 items a day for the first month or so. Eventually, I began feeling better, not only about myself but about life in general. It was amazing because soon enough I found myself hanging out in my room dancing to some fun music and writing new words on my project. My fear of my phone started to fade, as I began putting my phone back to vibrate and did not cringe or experience anxiety when I’d get a notification. PROGRESS!
You might be wondering why you should be interested in my story. Well, really the story is about overcoming difficulties by using gratefulness practices. If I can do it anyone can do it. Gratitude is so powerful! When you sit around thinking about all that is going wrong, all that is awful, or all that you wish was different, naturally, you will feel sad or angry. But, if you spend your time thinking about all that is going well and all that you enjoy about your life, naturally you will begin to feel great! I chose to share my story with you as an example of the power of gratitude.
I’d love to hear about your gratitude journeys, tell me about them in the comments below!