Gratitude: it’s underrated.
I think people need to practice gratitude more often than they practice the Art of the Whine. My friend, Evan, introduced me to the Gratitude Project which really is as simple as it sounds: Be Grateful for Something Everyday.
So, I’ve decided to actively do that. Remember when I joined in on Seth’s idea to not complain for 30 days? I don’t really know if I passed or failed that test, but I do know that it made the entire Bar Studying Experience a lot less of a thing to whine about than something I just had to do.
As great as the No Whine Project was, it focused too much on something negative (i.e. not doing something). That’s why I think the Gratitude Project is genius because it makes us think of the positives of our day (and still preserves my right to whine when things go wrong, mwahahaha!).
So, the way I’m going to do the Gratitude Project is to find one person, one thing, and one event per day that I am grateful for and explain why. Easy.
LET US BEGIN with YESTERDAY:
1. Person: Jessica P.
Jess and I have been friends since my first day at JLHS when I sat slightly away from everyone else on the bleachers while Coach Rod introduced himself. I had 2nd Period PE for my first class of the first day of school on my first time in an American school. I probably had the deer-in-headlights look. I had terrible listening comprehension (I thought Americans spoke way too fast), could barely trust myself to speak the English words I had studied all those years in my classes, and was generally just a NERD/GEEK/FREAK/OUTCAST. I didn’t know a smidgen about fashion (I had worn a uniform since I was in kindergarten from 6 am to 6 pm every day of my life, and on weekends I wore more uniforms for sports so fashion was never an issue); I was obviously a tomboy and wore a XXL shirt and baggy pants that three other people could have fit in with me; and I didn’t understand all the cultural, social, and socio-politico-economic implications that was life in an American HS (I had gone to the same school with the same group of people from kindergarten to high school…and there were only about a hundred of us in our graduating class…there were no boys in our school…nuns walked the halls and taught us. Drama? What is that?) I doubt there is anywhere else in the world where high school is so angsty and confusing.
So enters Jessica. She looked at me over her shoulder, climbed the bleachers to where I sat and said Hi.
I had never been so grateful for that word in my life.
She smiled that big smile, “I’m Jessica, you must be new. What’s your name?” She had a big voice and an even bigger personality. When she found out that I wasn’t just new to the school but to the country, she took me under her wing. I found shelter in her friendship that entire year. She introduced me to everyone she knew — and she was popular and well-liked (and was voted Class Clown with Nate), which made me an instant-part of any group she was in. She introduced me to speech and debate and to the people who would continue to be my family to this day.
She invited me to parties and sleep-overs and she never asked me to change who I was. She let me learn from her and I am grateful that she is still one of my best friends ever.
We both had our hearts broken over the past year and yesterday, we sat and talked about our lives over burritos (ahhh, typical of us), and laughed over our predicaments. Left and right some of our closest friends are getting married and neither one of us could see that in our near future. But it was okay because it was something we both could laugh about and support each other through.
Jessica reminds me everyday that it can take something so little as a smile and a “hi” to change a person’s life and the way they see the world around them. Every time someone new comes around, I will always remember to make them feel welcome, and to stay with them until they feel like they belong, too. It’s so simple but it’s so powerful.
2. Event: Meeting Bryan H.
I was a little lost in UC Davis King Hall. Then I was extremely bored in UC Davis King Hall. I was about to pass out from sheer boredom when a deep purple shirt tucked into perfectly pressed pants stopped right in front my fading line of sight. “Hey,” says a voice.
I look up and smile. “Hey.”
“I thought you were APALSA for a moment.”
I roll my eyes at him. “Because I’m Asian?”
He shrugs. “They were here before you.” He looks at my table, goes around the table and pulls up a chair. “Mind if I sit with you?”He was already seated, so I shrugged.
Talking with him made the rest of the three hours bearable and time flew by in a blur. He was engaging. He was annoying. He was funny. He was chauvinistic. He was strangely humble and yet arrogant at the same time. It was like every time I would think he was awesome, he would say something completely opposite that I would instantly change my opinion of him. And then he’d say something incredible again, and I’d be impressed again…and so on and so forth. It was almost weird never really finding a comfort zone talking to this guy, but that was okay with me. Like I said, time flew by with a quickness.
We talked about Tie Tuesdays (why he was dressed so nicely), the Marines, Military Service, JAG, law school, life, being a drill sergeant, motivation, and just very random things. Next thing I knew he was standing up and saying, “Hey, I have Contracts now, will you be here tomorrow?”
“Is it time to go already?” I asked, in shock, pleasure, and another strange mix of disappointment and relief.
I’m grateful for him keeping me company and just…being. I don’t know why I’m grateful really, but when I thought about it today, he was one of the first things that popped into my head as me being grateful for. So, there you go, Bryan. I’m grateful that I met you.
3. Thing: Air Conditioning
This should be self-explanatory. California has been suffering from an onslaught of extreme temperatures. I was in UC Davis and Sacramento yesterday for work, and boy was it H-O-T. Granted it might not have been as hot as Los Angeles, but it was still a scorching 103. I was so glad that everywhere I went, I was greeted by a blast of cold air, thanks to this marvelous invention.
I think I might have had an aneurysm if AC didn’t exist. Whew!
Gratitude Project Day 1: Check.
I love the picture of you and Jessica – you look beautiful (and so does she).
I think this is a pretty brave undertaking, not because gratitude is something to hide, but because so often thinking about things we really feel exposes the softer bits and makes us vulnerable.