It’s so easy to get blinded by darkness. Particularly when life doesn’t go to plan, or when we’re struggling with inner demons, we tend to automatically tune into the negativity around us. From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense…our ancestors needed to be constantly on the look out for danger. These days, this innate behaviour is less useful to us and, if not managed, can lead to anxiety, depression and a whole host of other mental health struggles.
One of the biggest things I have learned over the last couple of years is that gratitude goes a long way; instead of waiting for the next big thing to come along and ‘make you happy’, simply being aware of life’s little pleasures: the seemingly insignificant things that actually, if appreciated, can make you feel so much more content overall.
Earlier this year, inspired by Matt Haig’s book Reasons to Stay Alive, I decided to write a big long list of all the little things that bring me joy. It was a wonderful experience; it filled my mind with happy thoughts, heart-warming memories and illustrated how much there is to be grateful for, even on a daily basis.
Without sounding too morbid, something I have become increasingly aware of over the years, is how fragile life is. There is no certainty to anything, apart from how something makes you feel in that given moment…so, if it makes you feel good, appreciate it. Don’t let it pass you by. I frequently look back at my list; it acts as a reminder, particularly when I am feeling low, that there are always things to be grateful for.
I highly encourage you to try it. Perhaps it’s a struggle right now, perhaps you can only write one or two things down, and that is okay. Perhaps you write 50, perhaps (hopefully) you write hundreds. You can always add to it. There is no order, there is no right or wrong, there are no rules.
So, to finish, I’ll leave you with mine…
Yoga (obviously). Bright colours. Painting. Urban sketching. Music festivals. First sip of coffee in the morning. The feeling of sun on my back. Fairy-lights. Poached eggs on toast. Singing. Learning a new song on the ukulele. A smile from a stranger. Uncontrollable laughter. A cosy cafe. Country walks. Beach walks. The smell of the air after it has rained. The sound of rain. Finding a new favourite song. Hugging. Kissing. Skin on skin. Butterflies in my tummy. Cooking whilst drinking red wine and listening to music. Dancing without giving a fuck what anyone thinks. Family reunions. A funny memory that makes me giggle every time I think of it. A starry night. Coffee dates with friends. Girls’ nights in. Sitting in a pub garden on a warm summers evening. Knowing I have helped someone. Hearing the laughter of someone I love. A gripping book. Exploring a city for the first time. The sound of wood pigeons. A philosophical conversation. A hot bath in winter. Roast potatoes. A sweaty workout at the gym. Receiving flowers. Journalling. Meeting new people. Ridiculous memes. Cute dogs. Fresh bed sheets. Unexpected compliments. Sunrise. Sunsets. Feeling loved.