Destination: Gratitude

I've never been the happy-go-lucky type but I think for the most part I've always been a content person. While I am perpetually on a journey of self-discovery and self-improvement, I feel very fortunate on many levels. However, lately I find myself sinking into a place of dissatisfaction. This is an easy spot to be in too, because I feel there is a culture of lament and discontentment that sometimes can be contagious.

In my junior year in college, I studied abroad for a semester in Dakar, Senegal. I would describe this experience as simply and purely life altering. Of course there was the obvious: being in another country, an African one at that, learning a new language (Wolof), improving on a second language (French), the people, the food, the culture. I stayed with a host family and they were such beautiful and warm-hearted people who I still hold in high esteem to this day. However, the main source of change for me was being removed from the materialism of home and the constant drive to acquire more possessions. I remember being consumed with this when I was younger and not having a store on every street corner or being bombarded with conspicuous consumption messages everywhere, allowed me an opportunity to redirect my focus in life for that semester. I found myself enjoying the simplest things. The long walk in the hot sun with one of my older host brothers. Learning how to dance traditional dances with my two younger host brothers. Conversing with my host mother about the difference between the way Americans love and Senegalese love, generally speaking of course. I found myself being more thankful and recognizing blessings on a daily basis. Appreciating the opportunity to be able to travel and spend an extended amount of time in another country. If you survey your life, there are so many things you can be grateful for. When I returned home, my parents could see the difference. I remember my father remarking that I was certainly not the same daughter that left four months ago.

Fast forward to present day and when I find myself running away in my head or compiling lists of things I want and how happy I’ll be when I can check them off, it’s easy to see that I could not possibly ever be content with this mentality.  There is always an accomplishment to be achieved. A pair of shoes to be bought. A dollar to be earned. A country to travel to. That list is endless. However, I have found that when I take a break and go back to a place of gratitude, my mood is immediately uplifted. It’s just hard to stay upset when you start counting all your blessings as opposed to focusing on all the things you don’t have. I truly believe this is the quickest way to elevate your vibration and keep you in a zen state of mind.

I dare you to try it in your own life. The next time you are disappointed in yourself or upset about something, try taking a mental break from the situation and remind yourself of how fortunate you are. See how long it takes to get back to a happier place.

How do you snap out of a negative state of mind? Please share with me.