Words by Maria Stratoudaki // Photography by Jenieva Lebsack
In the chaotic world that we live in, where seemingly everyone is striving to attain or to become more, it’s beyond easy to get caught up in a spiral of greed and envy, unaware of the privilege and the blessings we’ve all been spared with. Have you ever considered what a gift your very existence, you being able to perceive, to feel, to marvel at the beauty of the cosmos surrounding you, is? A lot of the things that we take for granted would be regarded unapproachable in a different time and place. Just think to yourself how many people are deprived of food and shelter or how few enjoy fundamental human rights such us freedom of speech and equality. One of the most important values I’ve been raised up with is gratitude, and only now do I realize why my mother believed that growing into an ungrateful person would have disastrous consequences in my life balance. Honestly, people who are at core happy have one thing in common: sincere appreciation of everything life throws upon them. However I strongly maintain that gratitude is a virtue to be practiced and requires a lot of mental effort, self-search even. It’s unlikely that you’ll wake up one morning suddenly feeling at peace and complete about your life. My personal goal for this year is to hone this skill of seeing meaningfulness and adequacy in everything within itself. You can follow my lead by starting to do these:
- Gratitude journal: If you’re the type that enjoys pouring their heart into paper, you can jot down on a notebook 3 or 5 things that you appreciated and that made you happy that day, before you call it a day. It can be anything from having your favorite chai tea latte to receiving a compliment for your killer outfit. It might be difficult at first but within days you’ll notice how spotting and remembering these little moments will come naturally. Whenever you feel sad or disappointed in your life you can look back at all these markers to be reminded why this is all worth it.
- Reflecting: If you’re not really into writing, you can try meditating instead. Every morning, or right before bed, you can take as little as 5 minutes to reflect on all the great things that occurred and how they enriched you. Think about how these are actually special and unique, how you’re lucky to experience them. Thank whomever brought them to you (God? Karma? The Universe?).
- Memory Jar: While it’s no new idea, you can write your favorite thing that happened about the day in a little piece of paper and put it a pretty mason jar you’ve decorated. Upon writing it, whatever that is, you’ll feel tremendously more appreciative of it. At the end of the year you’ll empty the vase and look back at all the little moments that make up the marvelous puzzle of your life.
- Cutting down negativity: Negative thoughts and inappropriate talk about yourself or others will bring you down and drain you of all energy. You’ll never be able to wholeheartedly focus on being positive when you’re constantly complaining and criticizing. Challenge yourself not to say a bad word about anyone for a day. Then a week. Make it a lifestyle.
- Paying compliments: Whenever you notice something extraordinary or exciting about someone, don’t hesitate to pay them a genuine compliment about it. It doesn’t matter if you’re shy-chances are so are they. A kind word will leave both of you happy and, who knows, maybe can spark up a friendship. You can’t possibly imagine what someone is going through; sometimes all you need is a validation, an appreciative remark to cheer you up. Be the person to pass out positive vibes to everyone around them.
Apps and websites you should try out:
- unstuck.com (life coaching website and up that helps motivate, set goals and embrace change)
- happytapper.com (3 apps in the form of visual diary, gratitude journal and quote collection. Plus all profits fund children’s and women’s education around the globe!)
- happier app: (a gratitude coach that helps you track and share your special little moments)
- gratitude journal 365 pro: (an online journal that enables you to track the highlights of each day in picture format)
- redstamp.com (make beautiful cards to share with your friends online for free).
- moleskine app (a virtual duplicate of the classic moleskine that you can use in order to jot down and sketch your every day triumphs. It’s compatible for android too!)
Lots of love xx