Sometimes, cultural traditions remind us to express thanks. Thanksgiving, for example, is so called because it encourages us to be grateful—for family, friends, food, and hopefully, a myriad of other blessings. These celebrations are wonderful, as are all moments that inspire us to gather with loved ones and, quite simply, appreciate what we have, no matter how big or small.
The greater challenge is to find fulfillment in the everyday, and acknowledge our fundamental prosperity. Like most things that demand inner growth, this is easier said than done. Let’s face it, some days, life presents us with unprecedented challenges, and we don’t always feel equipped to navigate through our ever-changing responsibilities with grace and mindfulness. But if we concentrate on our many gifts—both internal and external—it becomes infinitely easier to conjure our own strength and wisdom.
We’re likely all familiar with the proverb that “it takes a village.” But this saying doesn’t just apply to child rearing. Perhaps it also hints that we are never alone, not really. We can’t always call upon our mothers or sisters or friends to lend a helping hand or some comforting insight (although a lot of the time we can, and we should!), but we can always call upon ourselves. Because as individuals, we aren’t singular.
We have a plethora of identities: the kid who used imagination and wonder to make her world more interesting; the adolescent who performed in a play in front of a large audience; the teenager who jeopardized her own popularity to stand up for someone in need; the person who ran a half marathon; the person who studied all night to excel on an exam; the person who forwent sleep to help a loved one; the person who started looking at the world as a multifarious place with more than one history. Personas as varied as these are inside each of us, and the transformations we go through are not arbitrary. These parts of us comprise our village.
- Compose a pictorial homage. Locate and dust off your mementos of times past, and thumb through them. Pull out your old medals, awards, photographs, drawings, journal entries, cards, notes, and keepsakes. Take time with these mementos to remind yourself of the powerful and synthesized selves within you.
- Collect your favorite things. Set aside your most honored memories and arrange them chronologically or thematically to have visual recognition of your complexity and capacity. You could place your childhood paintings in one pile, your awards in another, your cards from loved ones in another, your snapshots from high school or college in another.
- Make a collage of your life. It may read like a chronological self-portrait, or it may be more random, with mementos from childhood positioned next to those from the near present. Arrange them on poster board or create a sculpture. Remember that you are not defacing these cherished souvenirs, but rather breathing new life into them (and how often would you look at them if they remained in a box in your garage?). The finished product will showcase your blessings, both internal and external. Keep it handy. This artistic representation of your life can awaken your many identities, so they may be used to balance and guide you.