I was inspired late last night by a quote I stumbled upon on Pinterest. I haven't had a quote resonate with me this much in a very long time, and I thought I would take some time to reflect and dive in a little more into what it means to me. Here is the quote:
One evening, a Cherokee elder told his grandson about the battle that goes on inside people’s heads.
He said, “My son, the battle is between the two ‘wolves’ that live inside us all.
One is unhappiness. It is fear, worry, anger, jealousy, sorrow, self-pity, resentment, and inferiority. The other is happiness. It is joy, love, hope, serenity, kindness, generosity, truth, and compassion.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied:
“The one you feed”.
This past year has been exceptionally difficult for me. There have been a lot of changes in many aspects of my life, and with that, came struggles with my mental health. It is a sad reality that so many of us deal with mental health issues, but it makes me happy to see it being talked about more than it ever used to be.
On the note of mental health, a saying that has always bothered me is "You choose your own happiness". I would read this and think, how can people choose to be happy when all I want is to feel happy? How can I be so down when I'm not choosing to be?
I do believe that a lot of my struggles with mental health are from things that I truly have no control over, such as neurologic imbalances and pure circumstance. There really were days where I tried so hard to fight awful thoughts but I just couldn't kick them no matter what I "chose". But when I read this quote last night, something clicked. Those feelings of sadness, sorrow and worry are always going to be there, but you don't have to feed them. You can feed the things that bring you happiness. Talk about them. Acknowledge them.
This is where today's post comes in. I think it's so important to embrace and talk about the things that make you happy, as I believe it can create happiness in a place that depression can start to take over. Every one of us has our moments in life where, at times, it may seem unbearable to even leave your bed. It's okay to have those days, but it is imperative to at some point help yourself out of the dark. It can take time, but just starting is half the battle. I hope sharing my list of things that I'm grateful for inspires you to do the same, and to find happiness during times when you feel you've lost it.
1. Physical Health
This is something that I know most of us take for granted, including myself. We take advantage of the fact that we can wake up every morning and walk out of bed and down a flight of stairs, or walk around the block without gasping for air. We forget that there are people out there who can't walk, can't talk, or have physical ailments preventing them from doing so. It's so important to appreciate our health while we have it, as things can change at any given moment.
If someone were to ask me when I am the happiest, it is when I am dancing. I have never experienced something in my life that brings me as much joy as dancing and performing. I started taking lessons later than the average dancer, but my passion for the art has grown tremendously since then. It is a way of expression. If I had unlimited funds, I would build my dream house complete with a dance studio. When I am stressed or upset, all I want to do is put on a song that I connect to and dance. It is therapeutic to me, and I am thankful that I have something in my life like this that I am truly passionate about. All the clothes and makeup in the world couldn't make me as happy as dancing can.
3. Affording 3 Meals a Day
I am often the first person to say I have nothing to eat in my house, when in reality that is never true. My cupboards are stocked, and my pantry is full. There should be nothing to ever complain about in the food department. The food I have might not be what I'm feeling at the moment, but I have to remind myself that there are people out there who would kill to have a fridge filled with just a third of what I have, or would be so grateful to eat those leftovers that I can't be bothered to look at. It is often overlooked, but having a full fridge is something that I can certainly be grateful for.
This is a big one. Do any of you have those songs that seem to put every complex thought you've ever had in your mind, and put them together in a way that makes sense? Those songs that speak to you in a profound way? As you read this, I bet you are thinking of those songs right now. That's what makes music so special to me. It has gotten me through some of my hardest days, and can trigger memories of some of my happiest. I am listening to music at almost any point in my day. When I'm driving, showering, getting ready, or going to sleep, I am sure to have something playing. Music can do some pretty amazing things, and I am happy it exists in this life of mine.
I'll be the first to say that my family isn't perfect. I remember being young and wanting nothing more than having two parents who were together, or even just living in the same city. That aspect alone has been something that has affected me growing up, and even carries into my adult life. I can remember being little and lying to new friends on purpose saying that my parents were married. I was too scared to tell them that they were actually never together, as I had a past experience where I was repeatedly made fun of for having parents who were never married. Kids can be mean, so I did this in an attempt to create a barrier from getting hurt.
As I get older, I learn that things can get complicated. Things happen that I may not understand, but I know with the utmost confidence that they happen because they are supposed to. Throughout the most difficult times, it is my family who will always pull through. I may not have the most close-knit, magazine cover family, but I love them more than anything. I've learned all of life's most valuable lessons from them, even when I was convinced there was nothing more to learn. I'm still learning from them every day, and I wouldn't trade them for anything.
I know this post is a lot different than my last one, but in the spirit of Thanksgiving I thought it was appropriate. Thank you for taking the time to read something more personal, and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend filled with the people and things that bring you happiness.