Welcoming the new year

I spent the last few days of the year home alone in a cocoon of relaxed introversion and down time. I cooked tasty food for myself, read a lot, went for long walks, watched some movies… I also took the time over several sessions to journal about the past year. I wanted to take a step back and reflect on all that had happened, the difficulties of 2020 and its gifts, what I missed and what I learned. I found myself covering page after page with thoughts in my messy scrawl in ball-point pen, sometimes in dense paragraphs and others neat lists of bullet-points, with a generous sprinkling of smiley faces and a smattering of exclamation marks!

Afterwards, I started setting general intentions about how I want this new year to feel and I carefully began hatching plans for 2021. With no visibility on how this year will look, for now I am keeping concrete goals focused on things that are close to home and within my reach. However at the same time I’m contemplating bigger plans on the horizon for when the pandemic is behind us.

It’s a work in progress and I’ll be adding to it over the next weeks. I want to take the time to figure out what is really important to me so I make sure I’ve focussing on the right things. I feel excited about this year with a lot of curiosity at what will unfold in the next months and the unexpected possibilities that may surprise us. I wish you all a wonderful 2021 and thank you for dropping by regularly in this corner of the internet:)

Joyful gratitude 101

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #101

Today I am grateful for the fact that as humans we have the capacity to imagine and create a better world.  Since JOYFUL GRATITUDE 101 sounds like the name of an introduction course, I started to imagine over the last few days what the world might look like if practicing gratitude was taught as a class in schools and universities, rather than a topic we gleaned from self-help books later on in life.

Imagine if practicing gratitude was presented to young people as an important activity for mental health, just like doing regular sport is for physical health? What if a fraction of the time spent on advanced math, was dedicated instead to learning how it is beneficial to take time to appreciate everything we have?

Imagine if instead of fixating on what we were lacking, we learnt early on to shift our focus onto what we are blessed with.  Imagine if we learnt from a young age the subversive act of mindfully resisting the feeling of scarcity and FOMO, and trained ourselves to zoom in more systematically to all that we do have going for us.

Maybe it could help turn tough periods into slightly easier times (particularly adolescence and being a young adult, but also later in life) and allow us to more readily reframe the messages we constantly receive from (social) media and advertising about how we are not enough. Maybe it would allow people to bring their precious creative gifts more freely into the world. Maybe it would create space to be aware of and help those who are not as privileged. Probably there are many other side effects I cannot even dream up.

At this stage I don’t have the keys to change the education system, so all I can do is ‘be the change I want to see’ at my own level.  I’m loving writing weekly about the big and small things I am grateful for, and hope maybe it can inspire some readers out there:)  Even so, to be honest I still easily get sucked into feelings of scarcity and comparison if I don’t watch my mind, so I’m trying my best to be mindful over and over again about looking out for the good things.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, how has practising gratitude impacted you?