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_______ is the Thief of Joy

I live a blessed life. All of my needs are met and I have enjoyed many of my wants. I am making it through this pandemic with a full-time job and benefits. Even with these blessings, I am human. I feel guilty admitting it, but every now and then, I still find a reason to complain or wish for different circumstances.

I'm not alone in this weakness.

In a world where social media tries to set the bar for our standards and ambitions, it's very easy to be on top of the world and wish you were higher. We see people with obscureĀ occupation titles like "creative" flying on private jets to the UAE and YouTube stars getting record contracts without really being able to sing. Looking outside of our own lives, sometimes it feels like we're all alone in this world. Why is it that I have to "prove myself" for half a decade toĀ maybeĀ get promoted in another five years while some trust fund baby gets to globetrot on another person's dime? That's not fair, right?

It isn't always easy to stay centered and present in your own realm of accomplishments because we are force-fed the lives of others. Yet, keeping of with the Joneses mentally is almost as bad as trying to do so financially.

ComparisonĀ is said to be the thief of joy. It is a common source of depression, disagreement, low self-esteem and jealousy. Gratitude and comparison don't mesh well together, but gratitude is the answer.

Attitude of Gratitude

The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed. - Maya Angelou,Ā Letter to my Daughter

I was raised in the Evangelical Lutheran church. We have liturgy that aims to ground our understanding of life in immutable scripture. There are dozens of prayers and built-in opportunities for confession, but often times, the simplest ofĀ observances snap me back to reality.

I ate nutritious food andĀ drank clean water today.

My child is safe and healthy.

My mother and my son are peas in a pod and she helps me.

I work for one of the most impactful higher ed institutions in the world.

These reminders overcome thoughts of feeling stuck or lost or not being where I believe IĀ oughtĀ to be in life. When I miss certain freedoms that I had when I was younger and not a mother or when I am overwhelmed by responsibilities, I can breathe easier once I pause to reflect on just how good I have it. Recognizing my blessings orients my mind toward being a resource for others who are really struggling in whatever way I can.

Ben Jamison puts it best:

Gratitude as a spiritual practice, however, is something that we can consciously engage and experience. A daily practice of gratitude has the power to shift our perspective on life and bring more joy and appreciation to our experience. Gratitude is an activator. As we practice gratitude, we align and open ourselves to the divine flow of abundance. Ā Feeling grateful is, to put it simply, much better than the alternative. Ā But, it can be difficult to experience gratitude when life gets rough. Thatā€™s why itā€™s a practice. The more we practice gratitude, the more natural it will be for us to experience gratitude. Eventually it will become a habit, and we will much more naturally focus on gratitude all the time. (Citation)

In 2021, let's start, end and move through each day with a spirit of gratitude. This doesn't mean you should relinquish all of your ambitions. It's just an adjustment of energy so that you're not consumed by them.Ā 

Comparison < Gratitude

Challenge

Complete this gratitude list and share it on Instagram. Tag @mahoganymanifesto.Ā 

Continue writing daily gratitude lists in your copy ofĀ The Daily ManifestoĀ wellness planner or in an affirmation notebook from theĀ Aligned Collections.

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