Tips: Holidays and Gratitude (#2)

Whether you dress up a tree, light a menorah, have your own family tradition, or twiddle your thumbs all day, the season is upon us. A blanket of snow brings the promise of new beginnings underneath. The holidays can be a tough time for people and for good reason. To the people who may be grieving, anxious, trapped with the in-laws, or you’re feeling isolated and alone….you matter. For this reason, gratitude should be a staple of your holiday season and a staple to the end of your 2017.

Tips for Gift Giving and Receiving

Gifts shouldn’t be what this time is about but there’s no denying the stress it brings. If you’re like me, you’re awful at receiving gifts. Trust me, I try to be grateful! Unfortunately, there is an element of awkwardness I can never seem to escape. I would much rather give a gift than receive one and it becomes much easier for me to show gratitude. You don’t have to break the bank to give a good gift either. Reflect on what that person enjoys, why the two of you connect, and go from there! Sometimes something simple speaks the loudest.

Saying thank you can go a long way. If you’re feeling crafty; writing thank you notes, decorating candy canes, or constructing a gingerbread Taj Mahal are all easy ways you can show gratitude. Check out some of these ideas on Pinterest on how to say thank you without the uncomfortable hugging part.

However you spend this time, I hope you can take a moment to recognize and celebrate the people who matter most to you.

12.25.17

In an effort to reaffirm the holidays aren’t about the gifts, this list won’t include any of the incredibly nice things I’ve received from my friends and family. Today I’m grateful for…

1. Seeing my grandma light up as we bring in her brand new wheelchair

2. Leftover pizza from the night before

3. Tattoo stories

4. Vibrant sunrises

5. Living on the perfect hill for sledding

6. Game of Thrones Sundays

7. My journal

8. When my cat comes and says goodnight

9. Bacon burgers from Five Guys

10. Teachers and coaches of all kinds

11. Dancing in the rain

12. My family

13. Not having to set an alarm for the next day

14. Walks on the beach

15. My time in Cambodia and the people I connected with

16. Laughing with my siblings

17. Self-growth and how far I’ve come

18. The opportunity to be the commencement speaker for my graduating class

19. People who send me music they enjoy

20. My fraternity brothers

21. Learning new things

22. Gratitude

23. Frank and Holly, the people who taught me to love my process

24. The feeling after a long hard run

25. This. Present. Moment.

Tomorrow is a new day with new challenges and opportunities. Do your best to make the most of every breath before that. Love. Your. Process. Be patient with yourself and others as you take it one day at a time.

Happy holidays, internet!

25 Things I’m Grateful For (#1)

What are you grateful for? Here’s a list of mine to hopefully inspire yours.

Hi Internet,

I was hoping to share something with you all. My name is Jake, I’m currently a grad student, I have a cat named Ned, I was born in August, and I think gratitude is RAD! 

To provide some context, I read Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project” and not only thought it was a phenomenal read but it was action provoking. So I started journaling. Not every day at first, most times just when something went wrong and I needed to vent. I decided to bring my journal with me when I traveled to Cambodia on an alternative break trip and it served me well. When I came home I kept it up for a week or so before resorting to old habits and forgetting to journal. I felt guilty after reading when my last entry was more than a month ago in some cases. 2017 has been an emotional rollercoaster of a year and journaling has been the crutch I needed. Since 06/10/17 I have journaled every single night. My common practice is to highlight certain words. I always circle when I write the word love. I underline patience every time I write it. And I write 5 things I am grateful for at the top of each entry. IT HAS CHANGED MY WORLD.

I was having a conversation with my brother on a day that did not particularly go well. I told him I was stuck and could only think of three things to be grateful for. He said, “It’s hard to think of five things to be grateful for”. I could not have disagreed with him more. I marched up after we were done talking and I found two more things to be grateful for right away.

I think gratitude is important in both the big and small instances. Gratitude can be a hug or a kiss shared with a loved one. Gratitude could be a friendly wave when the stranger lets you take the left at the four-way intersection. Gratitude is any number of things and I think it is important to not only recognize it for ourselves but we need to share it with others.

Tell someone you’re grateful for them and tell them why. Call up a friend and let them know you appreciate them for a funny reason or just because. Tip the pizza delivery guy an extra buck for driving through the snow to get you that buffalo chicken calzone that would taste so good right now.

Whatever it is, gratitude helps us live in the present and that’s where we all want to be. So here’s my pledge to you, Internet. Every day for a year I will write 25 things I am grateful for on this blog. My hope is that you not only think about what you may be grateful for, but you’ll share it with others. You don’t have to share any links, technology is hard, but just bring it up. Let them know why you’re thankful for them because they are simply existing. Sound cool?

12.25.17

  1. Chill music playlists on Youtube
  2. Fuzzy socks and warm blankets
  3. Chance the Rapper
  4. Holding hands
  5. Well sauced ravioli
  6. Spotify
  7. My family (this will be on every list)
  8. When the sun melts the front steps I was supposed to shovel
  9. Car rides and singing music
  10. My alma mater, THE Bridgewater State University
  11. Playing soccer
  12. Seeing my grandma
  13. School of Rock, stellar movie
  14. New England Patriots winning football games
  15. Assistantship paid graduate school
  16. Any night you can see the stars
  17. Books on tape
  18. Netflix originals
  19. The ability to pet dogs
  20. My immunity to poison ivy
  21. The feeling of jumping in my neighbor’s pool when they’re not there
  22. My friends for tolerating my existence
  23. My grumpy cat Ned Stark
  24. Time outside hiking
  25. New opportunities

I don’t know if anyone will read this but I would love to hear things you may be grateful for when you think about your day. I’m stealing this from a friend but what’s your good / better / best from your last 24 hours? Maybe you’re grateful for a good night’s rest, maybe you had the best conversation at work today, whatever it is, write it down and try to never forget.

Take care Internet and happy holidays.