Attitude of Gratitude

Being Grateful and Feeling Content

Every year during the season of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, we all focus a little extra on feeling grateful.  Throughout the holidays we get into the spirit of giving, loving one another, and feel thankful for all of the blessings in our life.  This time of year, blessings may come in waves or a Chrsitmas miracle may find its way into your life. However, once the fun ends or the day has passed, we may not all feel the overwhelming presence of gratitude.  Maybe this time of year you’re not exactly where you want to be in life or perhaps things aren’t really going your way as this season can bring different hardships. 

 In this week’s blog, I’ll be discussing gratitude and contentment and what those two words realistically look like in our daily lives.

If a friend were to ask me to list specific things I’m grateful for, it would be an easy list to come up with.  I would say…

  • I’m grateful for shelter and the home I get to live in.
  • I’m grateful for the endless amounts of food I have at my disposal.
  • I’m grateful for the higher education I am currently receiving. 
  • I’m grateful for the multiple jobs I have to make a living. 
  • I’m grateful for having a healthy and able body.
  • I’m grateful for my freedoms and the protection my country provides. 
  • I’m grateful for friends and family. 

… Just to name a few as the list could go on and on.

Now if the same friend asked why I’m grateful for those things, that would be an easy question to answer as well.  I would say… 

  • I’m grateful for shelter and the home I get to live in because I know so many people are homeless and don’t have a warm or safe place to stay. 
  • I’m grateful for the endless amounts of food I have at my disposal because not everyone has access to any amount of clean and nutritious food or even food at all. 
  • I’m grateful for the higher education I am currently receiving because so many people don’t get the opportunity to learn or get an education. 
  • I’m grateful for the multiple jobs I have to make a living because I know so many others struggle to make ends meet or are unable to get a job to provide for themselves or their family.
  • I’m grateful for having a healthy and able body because so many others are sick or disabled. 
  • I’m grateful for my freedoms and the protection my country provides because I know others live in a hostile, dangerous, or war stricken country with no place to feel safe.  
  • I’m grateful for friends and family because I know many others have had a loved one pass away or are currently lacking a loving support system.

Now what if that same friend asked me how long my gratitude lasts or how often the feeling of gratefulness washes over me?

Well, there lies the problem.  All of those times of gratitude are short lived or based upon something or someone else’s condition.  I don’t think anyone has a problem of feeling grateful when you compare yourself or your life circumstances to people at war, or others who are homeless, or those who go with eating only one meal a day, or someone who’s suffering from a serious life threatening health condition.  It’s an easy assumption to make that we all feel appreciative or thankful for what we have, looking at those different situations

The challenge however, is feeling grateful for what we have when we compare ourselves to others who have more.  It’s funny how our gratitude and full hearts slowly begin to disappear when you step into someone’s brand new glamorous home, or when you walk through the mall and see all of the “must haves” in trending winter fashion.

If we were to add a “dot, dot, dot” after each thing we are grateful for, it might go a little like this:

  • I’m grateful for the higher education I am currently receiving because so many people don’t get the opportunity to learn or get an education…but I wish I was smarter and could get A’s in all my classes to pass with honors and guarantee a job after graduation.  
  • I’m grateful for the multiple jobs I have to make a living because I know so many others struggle to make ends meet or are unable to get a job to provide for themselves or their family…but I wish I was manager of my team so I could have a higher paying job and afford a wealthy lifestyle.  
  • I’m grateful for having a healthy and able body because so many others are sick or disabled…but I wish I looked like that super fit girl/guy I see in the gym all the time and had a better body.

This is where change needs to happen to live a truly and continuously grateful life.  I think we all need to work on finding contentment with gratitude rather than just little bursts of gratitude here and there. 

If we can work towards being grateful despite who or what we’re comparing ourselves to, then we can develop a more deep and real sense of gratitude that lasts instead of the short lived gratefulness that comes when we make a comparison to others with less  or the feeling we get when we reflect on our life/accomplishments each year. 

I think it’s also beneficial to point out that contentment doesn’t mean you don’t have goals or things you’re striving to change in your life.  It simply means not allowing your “wants” to take over and not letting your “dot, dot, dots” keep you from your sense of gratitude. 

As we all focus on gratitude this holiday season, it’s important to also focus on contentment too.  It’s not just about being grateful for what you have that others don’t. It’s more about being grateful for what you have in spite of what others have that you don’t. 

Gratitude and contentment challenge: Pay attention to what steals your gratitude in each moment and make an effort to feel grateful and content with you and you alone when it’s the most difficult. 

I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog and have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

As always, stay fit, stay healthy, stay beautiful Warhawks.

Talk soon,

Ashley Borowski


Mental and Physical Health, through the eyes of Africa

This past summer I was given the opportunity of a lifetime when I was able to travel to West Africa for two weeks. I traveled the country of Burkina Faso meeting people, helping people, visiting orphanages, and making memories. Through those events, Africa became one of the most impactful trips of my life.

pic for blog

In Burkina Faso, they like to take life slow. Sending a single email can take up to six hours. Being an American, I wasn’t used to this style of life and constantly found myself tapping my foot and checking my phone impatiently…but after a few days, I finally started to open my mind and realized they may be onto something. Life isn’t supposed to be rushed. Over in Africa they aren’t worried about sending 50 emails, or checking their phone every minute, or hurrying through the workday. The people of Burkina take their day as it comes along. If something doesn’t work out, they go with the flow and accept it instead of letting it ruin their whole day. I learned to truly admire this way of life. When I think of the term “wellness” I think of living a low stress life. I personally can’t think of a better lifestyle to lead to your personal wellness than the lifestyle in Burkina Faso. Take life slow, live stress free, and be happy because the sun is shinning. Although those goals are not always easy, anytime I become overwhelmed I think back to Burkina.

Fitness is something else that has a different definition in Burkina. The people don’t obsess about going to the gym or lifting weights like we often do hear in the states. As a matter of fact, the whole time I was there I never saw a single gym. They get their exercise from carrying goods on their heads all day, or walking the streets selling fabrics. I would see women walk up and downs streets all day carrying bananas on their heads and babies on their backs.  Without even intentionally realizing it, these women “workout” more in one day than a lot of Americans do in one week!

Overall, the people that I met abroad were very hardworking. Sometimes it’s easy to get lazy living in the states. Everything is pre-made and ready to go for you, but over in Africa they make everything from scratch. I bought a pair of shoes from a man after I watched him cut the leather, sew the leather to the sole, and fabricate the whole shoe. Same goes for the hand carven drum I purchased; wood was craved, hide was stretched, robes were tided together. It truly is amazing to see a scarf being made string by string. The point is, the people taught me to not be lazy. Do not live an easy pre-made way of life, but strive for high quality. High quality fitness, high quality wellness, and overall a high quality life.

 

Stay Healthy, Stay Strong.

Mary Marren

Take A Minute and Ask Yourself “Is It Worth It”?

Stress PhotoLife is already full of stress with all the schoolwork we have…why add to it? Family life, relationships, and personal problems are always obstacles in life, and all that stress will slow you down. So think about a situation that has happened to you where you could have thought “is it worth it?” and how that situation could have changed or maybe even been avoided if you would have done one or two things differently.

Summer is coming and before you know it, the future will be here, too. Maybe summer will cause a separation between you and your boyfriend/girlfriend, best friend, or family member. No matter who it is, it will be hard and thinking about the future coming and what you want to do with your life will only make it harder. My advice: LIVE IN THE NOW. Don’t create unneeded stress, and you will be amazed at how easy life really is and how easy it is to be happy each day.

Boyfriend/girlfriend: My first tip is don’t be jealous and crazy. Maybe there will be distance between you. Try and make the best of it! Don’t worry about what they are doing every second of the day. If you are meant to be together, they will stay true to you. Is fighting with your significant other over something stupid while he/she is miles away really worth it? Adding that stress upon you while there are truly more important things to worry about is not worth it. Trust me. Remember, if it’s meant to be then it will be. Always ask yourself “is it worth it?”

Family/friends: Sometimes our parents or other family members do not understand how stressful it is to be a college student. Adding random stressors like family drama, hometown gossip, or whatever is it will not help you. Listen, but try to just let it blow over your head. Why add more stress to yourself worrying about what someone else is doing when you should be just worrying about yourself! When it comes to your friends, don’t sweat it. If you have a busy week or maybe a busy semester, true friends understand that and will still be there for you when life finally gives you a break. Don’t worry about what they “think” you’re doing. It’s your life, and true friends stick by your side.

Yourself: Remind yourself that this is YOUR life. No one should tell you how to live it. One of my favorite quotes by someone anonymous is “I think we like to complicate things when it is really quite simple; find what it is that makes you happy and who it is that makes you happy and you are set.” Don’t push things away that scare you…it is now or never. You don’t want to be that person that looks back and wishes they would have done something different in their past. Worrying about what others think of you, “is it worth it?” Who cares what the world thinks? This is your life, live stress free, and do what makes you happy.

You could workout every day, eat a healthy and clean diet, and get amazing grades by putting all of your effort into your studies. Through all of that hard work each day, don’t forget about the inner “you”. At the end of the day, when you are laying in bed thinking about the events that occurred that morning or afternoon, ask yourself if each situation was really worth the stress or other emotions that it might have put on you.

Now go evaluate your life. Are you living it the way you want to…in a way that makes it as easy as ever to be happy? It shouldn’t be hard to have a happy life and live as stress free as possible. So get to work!

“Always remember that it doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you keep on going”
~Kenzi Weidman

Sources: Happy Quote