Almost everyone is into challenges these days.
If you own a fitness monitor, no doubt you are well aware of them: “Mary M challenges you to the workday hustle.” Because I have such a device, I receive challenges constantly. (For the record, I don’t accept them. Please don’t invite me.)
Recently, the craze which spread across the globe was the Ice Bucket Challenge. In this seemingly masochistic event, a bucket of ice and wa-ter was dumped over a person’s head to promote awareness of ALS (amy-otrophic lateral sclerosis) and encourage donations. I was never sure the relationship between them, but, what the heck, it was for a good cause.
At the risk of being judgmental (okay, I’ll own it; I am judging), some challenges are simply downright weird. As illustration, the “eat it or wear it challenge,” where participants each place one food into one of a series of numbered paper bags. A bowl with folded slips of numbered pa-per, each corresponding to a bag, is passed among the contributors and each takes a turn choosing a number. He or she then has to either eat a spoonful of the food in that bag, or must wear said food. Yep, you read that right. It’s weird, isn’t it?
Anyway, tips to make this more stimulating include choosing foodstuffs such as baby food, hot sauce, and horseradish. The question remains, “Why would anyone do this?” Unsure. However, it’s safe to assume a prerequisite for this challenge is possession of way too much time on one’s hands, and a worrisome lack of culinary and fashion senses.
That said, I have a challenge for you. Don’t worry, you won’t have to protect your clothing.
Step 1: Take a deep breath, relax your posture; loosen your muscles, and settle yourself down. (Go ahead; do that now; I’ll wait).
Step 2: Think of something for which you are grateful. It matters not what it is. Feel it deeply; let it flow over you like a warm show-er.
Step 3: Try and feel angry, frustrated, or sad while you feel grateful.
Can’t do it, huh? I knew that. It’s impossible to feel bad when you feel thankful. It can’t be done. Period. Gratitude and anxiety cannot exist in the same sphere; only one will survive.
So, to that end, as we enter the last month of the year, I figured – ever being the helper – that I’d provide a catalogue of reasons to stimulate gratitude; 31 of them to be exact, one for each day. Feel free to add your own.
I am grateful for…
1. Life itself!
2. My heath; even if though it’s not perfect
3. This aging body that keeps pushing on, despite its imperfec-tions
4. Friends and family, even when we disagree (because they’re imperfect too)
5. The unbridled, wholehearted, unconstrained, uninhibited joy my dog exhibits when I come home; no matter how short a pe-riod I was gone
6. Past relationships, existing now only in Memories who helped shape me into who I am
7. Intelligent, deep, respectful conversations over unrushed meals
8. Living where I live
9. A passing “Hello” from a stranger as we pass each other walk-ing down the street
10. My legs, which give me the ability to walk down that street
11. Light summer breezes caressing my skin on warm, sunny af-ternoons
12. The smell of the season’s first rain as it washes clean the air as that same summer slips gracefully into autumn
13. The pitter-patter-plop-plip of rain heard through an open win-dow as I lie in bed at night
14. The sound of the endless cycle of waves crashing on the beach
15. Redwood trees
16. Watching tourists who stand in awe, mouth agape, craning their necks to see the top of those redwood trees for the first time
17. A roof over my head
18. Having the wherewithal to donate to those without a roof over their heads
19. Orange, red, crimson sunsets
20. Orange, red, crimson sunrises on days when I must rise early
21. Rising early to go on vacation
22. Memories of past vacations
23. Anticipation of future vacations
24. Sunday afternoons with nothing to do
25. The luxury of taking a nap on those afternoons
26. Having a job to go back to on Monday mornings
27. My co-workers on Monday mornings (and all week long)
28. A baby’s uninhibited, joyful laugh at the smallest, seemingly most insignificant event
29. Seeing those same observations through the eyes of that in-fant; realizing I would have missed them if not for the inherent brilliance of that small being
30. Creativity of Spirit in all its versions
31. Your continued support of this column
Make a point each day to find at least one reason to be thankful; especially if it seems like there’s no reason to feel that way.