by Verna Barrientos
As we ring in a new year many people think about new year’s resolutions. I used to do resolutions until a few years ago. I never really stuck to my resolutions for very long (mainly because they were big and kind of scary). So now instead of a new year’s resolution I tend to focus on gratitude. Gratitude, for me, is giving time and energy to recognize the things, large and small, that I am grateful for.
At this moment, while I am writing this blog post, I am feeling grateful for the basics: I have a home where I feel safe, I have a stable job that I like, and I have food in the fridge and pantry. Keeping my gratitudes simple keeps me grounded. It serves as a reminder that while my life is not perfect I do have a lot of little things that add up to me living the life that I want.
For a long time I was not living the life that I wanted to. This was due to my mental health not being stable. I have lived with depression and anxiety since I was a teenager. For many years of my life I felt stuck with no meaning, purpose, nor fulfillment. For the last several years I have been in a maintenance period in my mental health recovery (thanks to medication, therapy, and practicing my coping skills). Because of this, I am able to work toward the things that seemed out of reach for so long – like graduating from San Jose State with my Master of Social Work degree, and working toward my licensure. Graduate school was very difficult for me. I felt an immense amount of stress on a daily basis. Looking back, I am so proud of myself for accomplishing one of my life goals. I am grateful that I am able to learn and grow from the difficult parts of my life, and serve as a guide to others who may be struggling like I once was.
There are many ways to be grateful. We can have gratitude for the big things (like the privilege of obtaining a college degree), or the everyday things (like having running water and electricity in our home). Either way, gratitude serves as a reminder that there are many things – some that we may not think about very often – we have going well for us in life. I wish you all a happy new year. Stay safe, and be well.