As an assignment for one of my classes this quarter, I must write three letters of gratitude to three separate people and mail them out. I believe in the power of gratitude, but it wasn’t until I started this assignment that I realized the impact thanking and showing my thankfulness of others has in my life. As a college student I wander around day by day doing things for myself- homework,going to class, eating, working out, etc, and I often feel unsatisfied. There are times during my day when I feel half full, or to say where I feel like I should be doing something else, something greater. By doing all these things, I am constantly surrounded by people, but yet I feel so disconnected. It may be that my generation is too intimate with our technology, we are constantly checking updates, pictures, and text messages, even during a face-to-face conversation with someone else. It may be our fear of talking to someone new and it may even be our fear of vulnerability. For me personally, I often fear what I do not know and stepping outside my comfort zone. I have established a routine these past four years in college and I am pretty comfortable, but is comfortable enough?
By simply asking myself this question I have realized it is not. I have realized that like sitting on a couch it is nice. I am surrounded by fluffy pillows and a sturdy structure, but I am only given one view when I look around me. I am blinded by my own comfort. I think at my age it is so easy to think about the future and to compare ourselves with others around us that we forget to be grateful for what we have. Yes our parents have told us over a hundred times to be thankful for what we have and this saying often sounds empty, but it isn’t until we are forced to see it, that we actually find out what being grateful means. It means that we take the time out of our day, as awkward and uncomfortable as it may make us feel, to thank those around us. It means that we should look at the small things and add those up, rather than dwell on what we cannot control or do not like. It means that we should learn to understand what giving means- physically, emotionally, and psychologically. It means that we need to be vulnerable and let people know how we feel. I called up my parents the other day to thank them for everything that they have done and you would have thought they dropped dead from the silence on the other end. They were unprepared, and for this I am grateful. They asked me why I was showing such gratitude out of the blue, and I said it was because I was thankful, and you know what, I actually was.
After writing my first letter of gratitude for my class, I came to the realization that happiness is a habit, and that if you want to find happiness you must first find gratitude. How can you be happy about who you are and what you have if you don’t take the time to think about it? And how can you think about it and not want to tell those who helped you become who you are that you are thankful for them? Mind blowing right? I have learned to value my friendships on a deeper level and be thankful for the small things in my day to day life. I have learned that because life and college have a time frame, I should value what I have when I have it. I have learned that smiles, hugs, and hellos are underrated in this day and age and given out as often as the lottery is won. Some people find it weird that I am so happy on a Monday, that I am enthusiastic to go to class, but I find it weird that other people aren’t. Maybe I am high on this feeling of gratitude and appreciation, but its free, and aren’t we supposed to feel this way? Happiness is a choice, and I choose it everyday.
I took on this assignment not even realizing the selfish life I live. I believed that I knew exactly what I wanted to say and to whom, yet when I got to my first letter I found myself frazzled. I thought I knew what I was thankful for, yet after writing my letter I realized I had no idea. The small things I had passed over turned out to be the most influential to my life and the person I have become. I am struck by a sense of humility when I think about all the people I have in my life, whether they play a large or small role. As I have begun to see, it is not enough to live a comfortable life, it is not enough to think you feel satisfied. I want to live a life with risks, happiness, and know that I am embracing everything around me. I want to live a healthy life, a life I am thankful for, a life where I do not hesitate to genuinely thank those around me. Everything in life has a time frame, so why not start now.