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By Chelsea Tjornhom, Senior Fitness Specialist    

 

   Competitive, self-critical and irritable are three words I would have used to describe myself two years ago. I am a cookie cutter type A personality and although these characteristics used to be my weaknesses, gratitude has transformed them into my top strengths.

   Two years ago, I had just graduated college and was trying to find my way. My identity from a college student and a dancer shifted and led me to feel uneasy and extremely moody. I criticized myself for not being able to get a job as quickly as my friends and I even started to criticize my body. I was looking for a sense of control and a sense of security. I felt unsettled and unhappy. 

    I knew I needed help and after talking to a friend, I was introduced to the practice of gratitude. My friend mentioned how she took two minutes each day to think about what she was thankful for. I thought “two minutes, I can do that!”  I started waking up each morning and before getting out of bed, I made a mental list of what I was grateful for.  The hardest part was setting the snooze button and choosing to sleep over giving thanks.  After committing for several months, however, I found myself habitually practicing gratitude and the results were worth it!

I found that on the days I practiced gratitude, I experienced:

  • More joy in even the littlest things i.e. my coffee, my scenery while driving or a smile from a coworker
  • Increased self-worth and self esteem
  • Self-forgiveness
  • Resistance to stress and toxic/negative emotions
  • Acceptance
  • Being present

   So much of our society yearns for more and looks to the future but after practicing gratitude for the past two years, I have never felt more contempt with my life. I accept all of life, the good and the bad. I see each day as a gift, enjoying the good and seeing the bad as learning experiences. Although gratitude has not changed my type A personality completely, it has brought awareness to my personality traits.  I use my competitive nature to push myself to be the best version of myself. This includes noticing when I am being too self-critical or negative and instead looking at my positive qualities with acceptance and love.  Gratitude has also shifted my mood. I find myself less irritable and more joyful. There are still days I can get crabby and I know I am human. Gratitude, however, reminds me that each day is a fresh start and that I have so much to be thankful for!