A Year Worth of Gratitude and Happiness

 

Birthdays are best celebrated with friends
Thats me far right. 

I want to offer a fair warning and tell you that today’s post is slightly selfish in nature, but seeing as it is MY blog I hope you won’t mind indulging me and letting me post about myself. As I write this, it is the eve of my birthday, my last day as a 31-year-old.  I will be posting this early (or not early, depending on when I wake) on my birthday morning. I have often said that one of the best ways to realize happiness is to reflect and consider all for which you have to be grateful. I typically do this in the form of a journal where I list a few things that made me happy, for which I am grateful. I have been blessed beyond measure this past year, and I hope you will allow me the opportunity to make today’s post a discussion of those things that happened during my past year for which I am most grateful and happy. 

In no particular order: 

Health. This applies equally to physical and mental health. In the past year we have seen over 2-million of our fellow humans lose their lives from Covid19 or related issues. The UN estimates that the number of deceased this year was about 4% higher than what would have normally been expected, a shocking and devastating blow to humanity. Even those contracted but did not lose their lives to the virus still dealt with and continue to deal with prolonged health concerns. I don’t bring up the fact that I was able to escape this with any sort of braggadocios or gloating mentality, but rather in a grateful light – seeing the health of so many be affected makes me that much more grateful that I was able to stay healthy during the past year. It isn’t just Covid, life can be dangerous, people get injured or struggle with other diseases and health concerns besides Covid, and it is never something that should be taken for granted. 

Mental health too is something for which I am grateful for as I reflect on the past, particularly because at this exact time last year, myself and the entire world were dealing with perhaps the highest level of uncertainty amongst a chaotic and confusing year. The lockdown across the world had just begun and many of us didn’t know what would happen, when or if things would go back to “normal”, or if we would ever be able to see our friends again. As such, mental health took a huge hit across the board, with record numbers of reported depression, anxiety and general mental health concerns being reported. I was part of that, dealing with some extremely dark moments, but with the help of my family, friends, and a good therapist – whose help I cannot speak highly enough of, have helped me get my mind back under control. I write this today in perhaps the greatest state of happiness that I have seen in my life, and remembering how far from this state I was last year, makes me all the more grateful. To those of you who struggled or still struggle, my heart goes out to you. I strongly encourage you to seek professional help, or at least find a friend or two with whom you can confide and share your feelings. If you lack such a person in your life, I will be that person, truly. I am not a professional but I am a decent learner and I hate to think that anybody anywhere would be experiencing in their head the things I have. You are not alone. 

Family time. Through either fate or some paternal instinct, my father reached out to me last year and invited me to come home and live with him and my mother for a few weeks until Corona blew over, so that I wouldn’t have to be alone. Well, a few weeks turned into a few months and I spent 6 whole months with my parents and Corona still hasn’t “blown over.” Nevertheless, I was able to spend more quality time with my parents than I have in years, and for someone who normally is lucky to see their parents 10-15 days a year, I feel grateful for having had the chance for so much extra time with my mother and father. They are in good health but they are getting older, and it becomes more apparent every day. That being said, none of us know how much time we have left together, and as such I cherish every moment. It was a joy to be able to spend that much time together, despite the predictable and inevitable argument from time to time, and I enjoyed getting to see how happy they both have become in their lives, and I am grateful to let them get to know me and the adult (I use that word cautiously) I have become. While my sister and I may not have spent 6 months together we have continued to be close as well. I feel lucky to call her one of my best friends and as a bonus, she is a social worker and as such I have a built in therapist that I can be seen by for free. Kidding, but she has been there for me during no less than 3 meltdowns this year, and all jokes aside, I am really grateful for her counsel. I am the older sibling, but it makes me happy to see the wise, confident, and mature woman she has become. 

Work. I feel like I often get on here and bash work, corporate culture, capitalism, careers and such. I don’t mean to be a curmudgeon, nor do I mean to express consistent negativity, I do see much stress associated with work, corporate culture and whatnot, but now is not the time for such a diatribe. Right now, I actually want to express extreme amounts of gratitude for my work and the job I have. I started my current job late in 2019, only 6 months before the pandemic began, and if I was in my previous role as a trainer at a gym, an industry that was hit exceptionally hard, I simply would not have been able to pay bills. So, on that note, I am grateful for the opportunity to work, and the ability to provide for myself. Again, this is something I know not everyone can say, but seeing such widespread unemployment reminds me to be grateful for the opportunity I have, and while my work may not light a fire in my soul, I should feel blessed for the security it affords me. 

My birthday was often during Spring Break
on this occasion we went with family friends to Disney World
The look on my face tells me I am anticipating my upcoming ride on the Tower of Terror

Ashley and Floyd. I know I introduced the blog world to Floyd, our bloodhound, just days ago, and I also know that in that same post I suddenly revealed the name of Ashley, who previously had been known mysteriously as “my girlfriend.” I certainly didn’t expect to fall in love last year. After my previous break-up I honestly thought I was done with love, that it just wasn’t for me. I was terrified of allowing myself to be vulnerable again, afraid that it would only leave me open to hurt and pain. I am grateful I met someone in Ashley who made me realize that there is love in the world, and that the two of us could share that together. She makes me feel comfortable being vulnerable, sees me for my authentic self, and believes in me, giving a level of support I never thought I could find in another. I won’t elaborate too deeply into what she means to me here, as we want to maintain some semblance of privacy in our lives, but I can’t talk about gratitude without talking about her.  Furthermore, she introduced me to Floyd, who’s love and companionship are a boost of support each and every day. 

Hobbies. Like many, I threw myself into my hobbies last year and am grateful for the progress I made in several. I have achieved near fluency in German, and am making strides in French, and I hope to soon be able to put my newfound language skills to the test, on native speakers when we get the chance to travel again. I have read many books, progressed my chess game, and generally been lucky to have many worthwhile pursuits with which to entertain myself. Additionally, I have renewed my love of athletic competition and am as we speak just days away from a Strongman competition, where I will be hoping to earn a spot at nationals. This is closely related to the physical health that I find myself lucky to have, but I am grateful to have rediscovered my love of training and competing. Something about pushing myself to be better than I previously thought possible really makes me excited. 

Happy Together. Lastly, and I may be forgetting a few things but I don’t want to drag this post out too long (it already appears to be my longest post to date), I am grateful for this blog. I have long been an avid reader and have enjoyed though not necessarily pursued writing. It has given me immense joy to wake up every day and spend an hour or two working on this blog. Even if nobody reads it, I enjoy the process of creating these words and crafting them into a story (the website design is a bit of a pain in the ass…). That being said, it seems like people actually are reading my blogs which makes me incredibly happy. To date my blog has been viewed in 19 different countries which excites me to no end. I don’t know if that many people are actually reading it or just clicking the link but either way, it has been immeasurably fun and enjoyable for me to begin this blog. I have no idea where it will go or what it will become, but I am very happy to be doing it, and I truly appreciate each and every one of you who may ever interact with it. Thank you all for being part of what has made this past year of my life perhaps the best one yet. Here’s to the next lap around the sun! 

That one time my friend Rob and I tried to eat an 11pound (5kg) pizza
on my birthday. we failed

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