I genuinely believe that the happiest people are those who are grateful. This year, I wanted to learn what it was like to be more grateful and to see if this grinch heart would grow threefold. I wanted to be grateful for being alive. For each breath of each day. I wanted to stop taking things for granted and see them blessings instead. I wanted to foster an attitude of gratitude in whatever circumstance. Although, I still have many slip-ups, I can honestly say I’m a much more grateful person at the end of 2013 than at the beginning.
My gratitude quote of the week is by Marcel Proust:
This is just the first of many posts to come reflecting on the past year. There’s a lot to sift through from the past year.
Who are the people who have had the most impact on you this year?
This goes without saying, but I’m always thankful for the impact Jacob, my friends, and my family have on my life.
I also want to thank Erika and those who participate in her link-up, because they truly help me practice gratitude more.
Is it weird to say Mother Teresa? After reading her autobiography, the life she demonstrated has made me think much more about the small choices I make everyday. As a generally selfish person who likes to take care of #1 – me, I think it’s a huge change that I actually ask myself (almost) everyday, “Am I going to choose to be self-serving or choose to do something kind for someone else?”
Mika and Sebastian – I know they’re not people, but there was no separate category for my furry friends. We may have adopted them from a shelter and rescued them, but they have rescued me during some of my darkest months of depression.
How have you changed for the better this year? How did it happen and why do you think it happened?
I think this year has taught me how to be more mindful of others. I’ve been meeting a lot of people in LA with qualities that I don’t like, and every time I feel judgey, I try to go back and evaluate whether I have those qualities in myself. They always say the things you hate in others you can most likely find in yourself. It’s a humbling process and has taught me a lot about humility.
What small / big things made you happy in 2013?
- discovering more of LA while eating, hiking, and visiting new beaches (so many to post still!)
- the fiesta movement helped us do more road trips and probably paid for 90% of our gas this year.
- growing a lemon tree for the first time and actually seeing lemons grow on it.
What challenged you most in 2013 and what did you learn?
I love adventure, but moving to a new city on the opposite coast was a culture shock. Not only did I feel homesick and miss the southern hospitality and the general friendliness of southern culture, but the more I compared, the more people in LA seem rude, superficial, and self-centered. For most of the year, I didn’t really pursue many new friendships nor did I care to, and I struggled with being grateful for the opportunity to live here. I am still learning how to how to make friends in this city, but I learned that comparison in any form is the thief of joy and that I must appreciate what I have here and now.
Who’s shown you appreciation this year?
Jacob has probably shown me the most appreciation this year. He has a journal where he writes me nice notes. I’m always excited when I happen to see that journal on my desk.
This year, what has been your favorite new discoveries?
- I thought there wasn’t no blogger community after xanga died, but I was happily surprised to find there was.
- Evernote – I knew of it before, but didn’t start using it until now. Helps me organize all my blogs.
- Donuts – We haven’t eaten so many donuts until we moved to LA. There are so many good donut places here.
What sorts of useful things make your everyday world a little easier and better?
- My cellphone case holds my ID and credit cards, so I never lose them anymore.
- Water Flosser makes me not hate flossing so much.
- My kindle helps me carry my books everywhere.
What’s your favorite thing about yourself in 2013? What’s your best quality?
I know this changes the tone of the post, but I have a very sensitive asshole meter. This helps me avoid a lot of miserable relationships. As far as my best quality, not everyone can appreciate this, but I think it’s that I don’t bullshit… with myself and with others. Although, I know I could learn to tolerate other people’s bullshit a little better. :P
What have you learned this year and how can you grow in gratitude over the next year?
I’ve learned to practice gratitude by blogging about it weekly, writing in my gratitude journal, and expressing it more often. There is always more room to grow by doing more of all three in 2014!
What are you most thankful for in 2013?
This was week 14 of practicing gratitude. I haven’t missed a week yet! The questions above were all December prompts from the GRADitude link-up. You can see my other gratitude posts if you click the banner below:
This Post Has 11 Comments
lol @ sensitive ahole meter! I need to tune mine up. Thank you for sharing your life lessons of gratitude!
This year was a great year for me. It wasn’t without challenges, but it was great. I started dating my now fiance this year and I am very grateful that he’s in my life. He has truly been a wonderful addition to my life and I am grateful for that!
haha yeah this year it has come in VERY helpful. :) you’re so welcome! thanks for sharing all your organizational tips!
congratulations! when did you get engaged? It’s definitely easier to deal with life’s challenges when you know you have someone to be there to support you through. I don’t think I could have dealt with this year without Jacob for sure. :)
Thank you! It was about six weeks ago.
this is so sweet! and such a good idea for all of us to count our blessings!
Thanks @anniemontgomery:disqus! :)
Okay, my first thought: AHHHH WE ARE SO ALIKE! I feel like printing this out because this could virtually be my own experience with gratitude in the past year, certain details aside.
Okay, that said: what an honest and open reflection! I really enjoyed reading this! I feel like you’ve been so real with this project and I honestly was so excited when you first joined and have been ever since! You bring a lot of thoughtfulness and commitment to it and it helps me to keep going, especially when I struggle with the same things. Overall, I am more grateful this year too — and not for lack of effort. ;)
Also, what you mentioned about your a-hole meter… you know, I think that’s a really good thing, too. I used to want to be friends with anyone and everyone and thought I was wrong if I mistrusted someone or didn’t like them in the same way. But now I’ve realized that while we need to treat everyone with respect, recognize that there’s some of everyone in ourselves and some of us in them, we also don’t have to regard everyone totally equally or invite in people who are toxic, are negative, or are a little off their rockers, etc.
Thank you, as always, for your beautiful and relatable posts, Esther!!!
I used to think if I forced myself to be grateful, it wouldn’t be gratitude because it wouldn’t come from the heart. But after all the weeks of practicing gratitude with you and the other girls, I think it’s made me realize even more that feelings can’t dictate my choices, and it should be the other way around.
Yeah, I used to feel the same way and be hard on myself when I didn’t like certain toxic people. I thought I just needed to try harder, but sometimes it’s better to just let things be. Life’s too short to be friends with everyone. I’m all about quality over quantity. :)
I’m excited about next year and how much more we will all grow together!
Esther I’m so happy to find your blog–the gorgeous + colorful header photo is stunning! You have such a thorough work-up of your gratitude. It’s cool that you’ve thought about this idea and actively tried to bring more of it into your life in 2014.
Thanks @aliciajaybird:disqus! :) I took all the prompts from @chimerikal:disqus, which made it soo much easier to break down all the big and little blessings over the year. I guess I was just tired of being grumpy all the time, and figured if I don’t change anything, nothing will change.. Is that how the saying goes? haha :) Thanks so much for reading! & I’m hopping over to your blog right now!
Wow, really nice reflection of your year. I can’t wait to read the rest. I don’t think I could even answer half of the questions. Hehe! I love how candid you are. :)
Thanks, Toni! :) Someone told me that it’s good to be yourself and not always feel like you have to please everyone, because you’ll gain people’s loyalty and also push away people who won’t care much about you in the long run. But on the flip side, I think it’s also my defense mechanism. I show people all the bad and ugly stuff, so that I am pushing people away on my terms. Balance. That’s what I need.
I’ve been enjoying reading all your christmas memories and stories! :) It’s definitely been keeping me in the holiday spirit.