Wednesday Words of Gratitude: Experience

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I am excited to bring back Wednesday Words of Gratitude. This week I am so grateful for life experience. Whether good, bad or indifferent I have almost always believed that in every experience there was a lesson and an opportunity to grow. I can honestly say I have learned many lessons the hard way over these past 36 years. Today I am grateful for all of them. Yes, even the seemingly bad experiences. I truly believe that you should live without regrets but with gratitude instead. That isn’t to say that when YOU make a mistake you don’t care about the ones you hurt. There is another lesson to be learned on forgiveness. To give it and receive it. Today, I am talking about three solid reasons why you can’t live with regrets and why I am grateful for the experiences I have had. You have to accept those moments for what they were, learn and move forward with life.  

Reason #1: Experience helps you grow, gain wisdom and become stronger.

I can sit here and list out 100 plus things that I feel went wrong or that I could have avoided or done better. However it serves me no purpose to dwell on the negativity. I strongly believe in the butterfly effect, if you change one thing in history you can drastically impact the future. Not necessarily for the better.

For example, had I not been a teen mom and had my daughter when I did, I probably would have never moved to South Carolina with my parents. I most likely would have never met my husband which means the babies I have now would not be here. I wouldn’t have chosen the jobs I had in the past leading me to some of my best friendships and relationships. Even eventually guiding me to my passions.

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You see, there are a ton of choices I could have made differently. With those changes I would not have the life I have now or be the person I am now. I love the life I have. Are there areas that could be better? Yes, of course. That is why I set goals for myself in every area of my life. So that I am able to enhance my life. I would never want to lose any element of it as it stands today.

Through being a teen mom, I am, more responsible and a better mother today. Through divorce I am a better wife. Through lost friendships I choose my friends wiser and accept new loses as the ending of a season. Through setbacks I make better decisions and focus more on what really matters. I learned who I am in the process and I have clear values and beliefs. Through an absent father I love and appreciate the father who raised me that much more. Being a mother helps me appreciate my mom even more. I don’t wish for any part of my life to be different from what it was. 

Reason #2: When you focus on regrets you are not being present. You lose the appreciation for the people and things you have.

When you wake up everyday and dwell on the woulda, coulda and shoulda you miss the opportunity to take action. To become all those things you once believed you were. I was listening to a periscope the other day where the subject was, “If you keep looking behind you, eventually you will hit a wall.”

There is a reason why you can’t drive forward looking in the rear view mirror. Or why you shouldn’t walk forward with your head turned backwards. You have to always keep your eyes focused on what is ahead of you. You can glance back once in awhile but only to see how far you’ve come but never to worry about what you left behind.

If you had some missed opportunities in your life due to lack of planning or lack of hustle you have to accept your mistake and do better later. Figure out what you can do differently and keep pushing forward. You keep that lesson in your bag and when the time comes you use it to make better choices.

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When it comes to living in the present, it's a matter of silencing the noise and just being. Not overthinking things not worrying about things that are out of your control. You have to appreciate the now and the past for the purpose it served.

This wasn’t always easy for me. It took some time to get to the point where I could get out of my head and allow myself to appreciate what was happening around me. I even started a gratitude journal. It quickly became a struggle for me to keep up with. My struggle was thinking of stuff to be grateful for. I thought that if nothing BIG happened it was just a regular day and nothing worth documenting. Once I realized that I was overthinking things and there are many things to be thankful for, my gratitude list now consist of things like:

  1. Playing with my kids.
  2. I woke up.
  3. I didn’t have a headache today.
  4. A kiss from my husband.
  5. My oldest daughter spent the weekend home from college.
  6. Laughter with friends.
  7. My favorite song was on the radio this morning.

It may seem silly to you but these are very real things that deserve our attention. Never take for granted your children, spouse, friendships or even the 5 basics senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste & smell).  I assure you if you lose any of them after knowing what it's like to have them you will WISH you had appreciated them. Or had been present and lived in the moment just a little bit more.

Reason #3: Your experiences aren’t just for your benefit. They are there so that you can help someone else.

I strongly believe that one of our purposes on this earth is to serve others. In many different ways. Sometimes in life we cannot always understand the reason why certain things happen to us. Whether it is a random act of violence. Being taken advantage of or simply having your heartbroken because you loved someone that didn’t love you back. There isn’t always an immediate answer given to us for the question, “why did this happened to me?” In some cases you may go years before you receive a clear answer.

Then, one day you will be placed in the presence of someone that needs to see your strength. That needs to see how you made it through. You see, life happens to us sometimes so that we can show someone empathy and compassion. So that we can let someone know, yes I have been there too. People need to see through you that there is hope and grace still available for them as well.

Keep this in mind. The lesson isn’t always for you directly it's for you to be able to serve people and meet people where they are without judgment.

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It's your Turn! How can you be more present and mindful?

Find a way to be grateful for all that life has thrown your way and in due time you will understand why it had to happen the way it did.

Whenever you can I challenge you to take 5 mins or less each day to write 1-3 things that you are grateful for. Use a notebook, a special gratitude journal, your calendar or any notes app on your phone.

You can even take one page of a notebook and label it numbers 1 - 31 or however many days are in that current month. Then each day next to the corresponding number write 1 small thing you are grateful for. When you get to the end of the month and you want to complain about how crazy or bad that month was, you will have this list of 28 - 31 great moments to be thankful for.

Try it out. Let me know how it works for you. If you have other methods of tracking your gratitude please share and help someone else.

Until next time, Peace Peace!

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