Gratitude and joy

"For many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep”. The next one is “I don’t have enough time”.

"A joyful life is not a floodlight of joy. That would eventually become unbearable. They say its opposite is not sadness but fear." - Brene Brown.

Those two things she said about not having enough time and not having enough sleep - I can’t think of a time in these past few months that I’ve not said that to myself. And as Brene has pointed out, I see how it influences the tone of my day and dominates a feeling of scarcity. But why? Why the feeling of scarcity when the reality is actually the opposite?

My life is full. I have a lot of things on and I do have a lot of time. What I’m lacking is being present in the moment. My mind’s already racing to the next thing, I’m not able to fully enjoy what’s right in front of me at this moment (such as writing my thesis), and then it whizzes by and before I know it, I find myself missing that time gone. It’s like when I was in school. I couldn’t wait to be an adult and work. Now that I am, I’m missing being a kid.

There’s always something beautiful in the present. Always.

When I’m especially running low and susceptible to falling into a catastrophising mood, applying Brene Brown’s dig deep exercise, helps a lot. ‘I’m feeling vulnerable. That’s okay. I’m so grateful for _____________.’ 

  • My health
  • My volunteer work. Even without paid compensation, the experiences and friendships formed have enriched my life
  • Living out my dream, even though research writing isn’t always straightforward
  • Open borders
  • The sound of deadlines being ticked off, even if I have to forego some sleep to get things done

What are you grateful for? What are some of the things that are actually quite hard or even unpleasant, but admittedly bring joy to your life? Here are some other gratitude prompts my friends have found useful over the years which might be especially helpful for HDR students:

  • What worked really well today?
  • What are three things that I am doing really well at the moment?
  • What are the top qualities in my friends that I really value?
  • What was one kind thing I experienced today?
  • What put a smile on my face today?
  • What were the top three best comments I got from my supervisors?
  • What do I own at the moment that is making my life easier?
  • What are the top three things that I love about my campus?
  • What made me laugh this week?

Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark. *This is part of a blog series from my reflections during Mental Health Awareness Month and integrating the guideposts from Brene Brown’s book, the Gifts of Imperfections in my HDR experience.

Tagged in What messes with your head, phd, self-care