This month I embarked on a daily gratefulness journey on Instagram. Every day I have been taking a photo or finding one online of something that I am grateful for. I know I tend to take the little things for granted- gratefulness included. It’s not the most popular Instagram account out there. I suppose my pictures have been very basic and weak as of yet. (I actually took a picture of my eyes because I had a dream I was blind and it was terrifying so I was thankful for my terrible eyesight! #foureyesforever).

But the thing I have noticed is feeling calmer and less annoyed by those little irritating things in life that sneak up and ruin your day. Yes, I am frustrated when stuck in ridiculous traffic on the 401 but at the same time, I am grateful that I am safe in my car because somewhere else up this commonly cursed highway, someone is stuck- or even worse, injured. I find that adding gratefulness to my day (that’s right, I schedule reminders to myself on my phone!) has been a good mini adventure thus far. There are certainly times when I want to wallow in misery and not be grateful for anything but the truth is if in those moments you can find something that you’re actually thankful for, it makes you feel better about the situation. I’m not saying accepting a situation that just generally sucks- I’m saying find any so-called blessing in disguise. As preachy as that sounds.

During this month of practicing my daily gratefulness habits, my father had a major heart attack. It’s almost satirical that here I am trying to be more grateful and life throws at me the biggest scare to evoke gratefulness. (Obviously that means he is okay!) I certainly have never felt more grateful in my life. To be faced with someone you love’s mortality is unnerving and scary. What’s even more scary is that we take these people for granted every day when we need to be reminding ourselves to not stay angry and bitter because you may never get the chance to forgive again, or to say “I love you” because you mean it and it might be the last time you utter those words to this person again. I encourage everyone to do it now before they’re gone. I know this blog is getting a little sappy (pass the Kleenex!) but I want to emphasize that who we have in our lives, what we have in our lives- no matter how insignificant they or it seems- is absolutely amazing.

Be thankful for life’s unsteady ups and downs. The universe has your back and every hardship, every tear, is a life lesson designed just for you to discover right now. (It is unfortunate that the universe can’t just give us rainbows and unicorns instead but find that blessing- you will not remain unchanged.) Live life appreciating whatever it is that you appreciate. Memories are wonderful recollections of happiness and thankfulness but if you’re not living in the present world you will also not create new exciting and incredible experiences. So, enjoy your pleasant memories; after all, they are reminders that good things do indeed happen… but also remember to live in the awesomeness of things in this moment right now.

About the Author

Tara Richardson is a Peer Support Specialist at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby, Ontario. Her own personal journey through mental illness has led her to be a passionate and dedicated advocate for mental health recovery. Tara is an aspiring author who is in the (long) process of writing and editing her memoir compiled from journal entries beginning at age 11. Tara has a B.A. in Psychology, a diploma in Social Service Work, and a certificate in Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Tara can be contacted at: tara_richardson913@hotmail.com Non-creepy fan mail gladly welcomed.