We keep on hurrying through life, tending to forget all the small reasons that should make us smile in this very moment. It’s only when something bad happens, that we realize how lucky we were.
As a reminder to be thankful for the positive things in life, I’ve written a gratitude list. Starting from today I’m going to share my personal 24 reasons to be thankful with you until Christmas.
#1 Being healthy
In Germany we have a saying:
A healthy person has a million wishes in life while an ill person only has one single wish: Being healthy again.
– and it’s true!
On normal days I tend to be annoyed by numerous small things, such as getting up early when it’s still dark outside, attending a difficult meeting in the office, cleaning the bathroom, or being stuck in traffic.
When I’m sick though, even if it’s nothing severe like lying in bed with the flu, my perspective of life changes instantly. Suddenly, the only really annoying thing in my life is being ill. In these moments, I wish I could get up and spend a normal day in the office instead of being stuck in the house for days.
As soon as I’m on the road to recovery though, this newly accomplished insight mysteriously disappears. Before I know it, I’m fully occupied by my daily life again, where being healthy feels completely normal.
But it’s not. It’s a blessing. So let’s pause for a moment and appreciate the gift of being healthy today.
#2 Having a job
My job provides independence. It creates a structured daily routine, and gives me a reason to dress up each morning.
Through my work I meet interesting people, and get to spend my lunch break laughing with my wonderful colleagues.
By dealing with professional challenges I contribute to my companie’s success, and learn a lot about me and my personality in the process. Achieving professional goals does wonders for my self-confidence!
Having a job makes holidays special and Mondays ugly. Most importantly, it makes me fit in – because since childhood we have been taught that everybody is supposed to work, right?
But that’s not what reality looks like these days. In fact there are many people who don’t have the opportunity to work. Some send out dozens of applications each month just to be rejected time and again. Others can’t work at all due to health problems, or because they can’t manage to get a work permit in the country they currently live in.
A simple question such as
What do you do for a living?
can ruin your day if the only answer you can give is “nothing”. Being unemployed for whatever reason is a daily cause for distress. Therefore I’m very grateful that I have a job.
#3 Happy with my work
I’m not only happy to have a job, but also that I enjoy my work. I’m proud to work for this particular company and our products fascinate me. As head of quality management I contribute in making this company even better. It’s a typical win-win-situation for my employer and me.
Over the years I’ve met a lot of people who weren’t satisfied with their jobs, or even hated their employer. So I’m aware that it’s a real blessing to have a job that I love!
#4 Living in a country with good infrastructure
Clean water, electricity, schools, high-speed internet, public transport and supermarkets – all the things we take for granted actually aren’t.
Just recently I’ve read an article about kids in Kenya who are taught to avoid Elephants in order to survive their nine-mile walk to school. What a terrible thought!
All I had to do as a child was take the bus, listening to the latest music and chatting with my friends.
I’m glad that my country offers all the benefits it does – and today I say “thank you” for it!
#5 Not having to leave my home country
Looking at what’s happening around the world, I’m very happy that I’m still living in my home country. Thousands of people around the world are prosecuted because of their beliefs, their race or their political opinion. Not to mention those who flee from a war. The fact alone, that I don’t have to leave everything behind in order to survive is a reason to be grateful every minute of my life.
#6 Moving freely in my home town without worrying about street violence
During my travels I’ve visited several countries with high criminal rates. I have experienced how it feels when you constantly have to watch over your shoulder because a place isn’t safe.
In South America my husband and I even took our wedding rings off before visiting a fútbol match. Maybe an unnecessary precaution, but at least it gave us the illusion of reducing the danger of being robbed. After a few days of surviving without being shot on the streets, I started to feel less uncomfortable. But a feeling of uneasiness remained.
Thinking of these situations, it feels liberating to move freely in my home town.
#7 Still having access to the house I grew up in
Although I’ve lived on my own for over a decade now, the house I grew up in still owns an important place in my heart. There’s the garden where I used to climb up the trees with my brother. The wooden hut in our backyard which I helped my dad to set up. Our comfortable living room where I’ve spent countless evenings reading or watching TV with my family. And, of course, my own room, where I spent hours playing on the floor with my sister.
The house I grew up in holds all kinds of emotions and a lot of childhood memories. I’m aware that it’s a real luxury that my parents still live there and I really appreciate being able to visit any time I like. The day when a new family is going to move in there, this door is going to close forever.
#8 Having enough money to buy Christmas presents
Christmas shopping can be depressing if you don’t have enough money to buy a present for everyone. I know what I’m talking about, because there used to be times when my parents were low on money during my childhood. I’ll never forget the sad face of my mother, when she saw something beautiful in a shop and had to leave it behind.
“Your brother would love this toy! Maybe I can afford buying it next year…”
– She used to say. More than once it made me cry as a child, thinking that the world is really unfair, if a caring person like my mom can’t afford to buy presents for her loved ones.
So I’m really happy these days that I don’t have to worry about price tags when looking for Christmas presents. Of course Christmas isn’t all about money – please don’t get me wrong. There are also a lot of wonderful presents that aren’t expensive. But still, it can be really depressing not being able to buy presents.
#9 Being able to travel anywhere I like
Most of our family holidays led us to Austria, Italy or Mallorca when I was a child. During my years at university, I couldn’t afford any holiday at all.
That changed rapidly when I met my husband. With double incomes and no kids we have the time, freedom and the necessary resources to travel everywhere we like.
Exploring foreign countries, meeting different cultures and tasting lots of delicious local food are among the happiest memories in my life. Even without writing a gratitude list I’m constantly thankful for this.
#10 Quality time with my husband
Given that my husband has to travel for work, I’m aware that our shared time is precious. Sometimes he travels to Asia, South America or Australia and I don’t see him for several weeks in a row.
Therefore I’m happy and thankful about every weekend or holiday we spent together in the past year.
#11 Leading a respectful relationship
My next point is also about my husband. Once a communications-trainer said to me:
“The person with whom we lead the best conversations is usually the person we marry.”
As far as I’m concerned, that’s true. I love talking to my husband until late at night and appreciate the way we treat each other.
Seeing how some couples argue all the time, cheat on each other or talk bad about their partners makes me realize how lucky I am that we treat each other with respect.
#12 Talking to my mom whenever I feel like it
Honestly – how often have you been really annoyed by your mom? I have. In fact, I still am sometimes.
At the same time I am aware, that the older I get, the more valuable our phone calls become. My best friend’s mother passed away two years ago. Since then, my friend misses her desperately. The realization that she’ll never be able to talk to her mom again hits me hard every time I think about it. I take it as a reminder, that being able to talk to my mom, whenever I feel like it, is a blessing.
#13 Falling asleep in my own, comfortable bed tonight
Sleeping in my own bed might sound simple. Until I’m lying on my friend’s couch with her cat stepping over me at night or trying to sleep in an uncomfortable airplane seat. In these moments falling asleep in my own bed seems to be the most luxurious thing ever.
#14 Living in peace
The thought of living in a war zone, seeing my home destroyed, or my husband killed by gunfire is unspeakably cruel. I really don’t know how these poor people in war countries can bear it. Compared to such a destiny, all my other problems seem tiny. Living in peace is one of the biggest blessings ever.
#15 Being part of a good team in the office!
It’s one thing to watch TV shows like Gossip Girl (which I loved!) or Pretty Little Liars (which got too weird at a certain point). But I clearly wouldn’t want to work with any of these characters on a daily basis.
Luckily, my colleagues are nothing like Serena van Woodsen or Blair Walldorf. No gossip and no intrigues. And I can’t tell you how happy I am about it.
#16 Not suffering from migraine today
When migraine strikes, I sometimes spend hours in my dark sleeping room, trying hard not to give in to my sickness and vomit. It’s simply horrible. Compared to that, every day without suffering from headache and sickness feels like heaven.
#17 Not having to work on weekends
My brother’s girlfriend is a nurse. My sister-in-law’s husband works as a baggage handler at Munich Airport. Both have one thing in common: They have terrible working hours.
Christmas day, Easter weekend, or just a random family BBQ – most of the time at least one of them has to cancel because of their respective jobs. And when they finally do get their day off, it’s Monday or Tuesday where everybody else (including their partners) is at work. It’s hard to keep up a social life with these working hours.
In that regard my job is really perfect. If I feel like it, I can leave the office at 1 p.m. on Friday afternoon and only return at 9 a.m. on Monday. Even if I decide to work late on Friday, it’s my decision. Plus, I always have the weekend off.
#18 Listening to audiobooks before going to sleep
Apart from smartphones, audiobooks are probably my favorite invention of the last decade or so! I have always loved to read, but there are situations when reading a book simply isn’t an option.
Lying awake in the middle of the night while my husband is sleeping, for example. Or during a migraine attack, when I can’t even keep my eyes open without getting sick.
In the past, there wasn’t anything I could do except counting sheep in my head. Nowadays, I put my headphones on and plunge into a totally different world. Before I know it I’m falling asleep again, waking up relaxed the next morning. I really love listening to audiobooks and couldn’t imagine a life without them anymore!
#19 Eating healthy at work
Eating healthy is a difficult task – especially while working from 9 to 5 each day. I’m lucky to have a lot of good food options close to my office that allow me to eat healthy. Instead of spending hours in the kitchen at home, preparing my own food, I can go for a walk in my lunch break and order salad, sushi or a soup in one of the restaurants close by.
#20 Having the freedom to make my own decisions
I’ve grown up in a time, where it’s totally normal for women to make their own choices. Whether I want to go to university, work in a fulltime job until I’m 60, travel the world, or start a family:
These are my own choices – and nobody is supposed to interfere.
I’m aware though, that there are still countries, where women are supposed to fulfill their pre-destined role as a wife and mother. Hell, in some regions women aren’t even allowed to steer a car!
To sum it up: Having the freedom live the way I like and make my own choices may feel normal these days – but it’s still something to be grateful for!
#21 WhatsApp family chat
When I moved out of my parent’s house in 2005, staying in touch with my family was rather difficult. Of course I talked on the phone with my mom on a regular basis. That was about it though. My dad doesn’t like phone calls – and my brothers even less. Given that my parents and my brothers still live close to each other, I soon felt like some kind of outsider.
That’s why I’m so happy and thankful for the invention of WhatsApp. Several years ago, I set up a family chat where we share pictures and everyday stories. Although it’s been over a decade since I’ve moved out, I feel closer to my family than ever.
#22 Going for a walk outside
I used on live close to the city centre for several years. Every time I wanted to go for a walk, I had to take the Subway to a nearby park. After darkness, said park turned into a meeting point for dubious creatures, and thus wasn’t a safe place to go. So unless I decided going for a walk on the sidewalk along the city’s busy streets instead, I didn’t get to do any exercise outside after work.
That’s why I consider it a blessing to live in a nice neighbourhood close to nature today. I really appreciate just stepping out of the house and go for a walk outside whenever I feel like it.
#23 Friends who care about me
I don’t have dozens of loose acquaintances – but I do have a handful of friends that make my life special.
Friends are something wonderful. We talk and laugh a lot. I appreciate their honesty, and all the fun things that we do together. My friends are there when I need someone to talk, especially during my husband’s absence.
They care about me, as much as I care about them, and I’m incredibly thankful to have them in my life.
#24 Feeling good in this very moment
Finally, I’m convinced that every moment in which I’m feeling fine is a reason to be thankful.
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with a benign tumor. My doctor told me, that it’s nothing to worry about. But, she added, it might (or might as well not) require an operation sometime in the future.
In the following days, I made the mistake to consult the internet. I researched pros and cons of different types of operations, and googled the side-effects. In between I soaked in every report of other affected women I could find.
Over all this research, I completely forgot that I felt absolutely fine for the time being. Hell, if my doctor hadn’t discovered the tumor by chance, I wouldn’t even know about it. By worrying so much about something that was probably still years away, I ruined my current life as well.
Concentrate on how things are – instead of worrying about what might be
What kind of a life is it, when I spend all my days worrying that something bad might happen, until it really happens? Not a good one. So I made an effort to push the possibility of an operation, including all my worries and fears, to the back of my mind and started to concentrate on how I feel from day to day.
If you break it down, it doesn’t really matter how I felt yesterday or what’s (maybe) going to happen tomorrow. It’s the here and now that counts. And if I feel good in this very moment, why not accepting it as what it is: A blessing.
Live in the moment and make the most of it. Merry Christmas to all of you!