Although 2016 was a long, long year filled with many challenges, disappointments, and trials, it was also the year I took a hard, long look at the things I am grateful for. Early on in the cold Minnesota winter, I found myself yearning for something deeper than me. That is when I came across a daily challenge. The challenge called for me to practice the act of gratefulness everyday for 30 seconds. At first, I would quickly run out of things to be grateful for. Food, water, shelter, my laptop, my sister, cheesecake, what else was there? Quick, you try! Not as easy as it looks, huh?
Soon I realized that if I wanted to reach thirty seconds, I would have to put more effort into the practice. I began searching furiously for gratitude. I sat on my big, worn out leather couch reading a novel next to my windowsill and cat during a summer downpour. The wind howled and I felt a splash of warm rain on my skin. I was immediately touched by this feeling of gratitude that I would put my book down and just relish in the moment. Gratitude feels like a warm rush racing through my being with such force I can’t help but smile so wide my eyes crinkle. I was grateful every time I took a morning jog and the cold air caused my breath to fog because it meant I was alive. I stared at my cat curled up in my favorite blanket at the foot of my bed and felt the warm rush of gratitude.
I did not struggle to be grateful for 30 seconds. All of sudden, moments of gratitude I had felt the day before came rushing to my mind. During my daily morning prayer and affirmations, the first thing I am grateful for is that God let me rise to see another day. What challenge can I not overcome knowing I have been blessed in this way?
This year I also joined two families, the Aurora Center and the Young Muslim Collective. I am grateful everyday that I have the chance to be surrounded by people who make a world of difference to not only me but all the people they’ve touched through their compassion, understanding, and commitment. I am perhaps most grateful for the capacity to love others. I am grateful that the people I love have allowed me to grow and to blossom into the person I’ve always been but sometimes didn’t understand. This type of love is what gratitude is made out of. This simple 30 second practice helped me reshape my whole understanding of what gratefulness feels like and for that, I am grateful.