What Does It Mean To Be “Obsessively Grateful”?

Andréa Portilla

“Be obsessively grateful.”  This phrase was on a sign I saw while perusing the aisles of Target.  I didn’t purchase it, but I love the simple yet powerful message that it sends because everyone should always remember it, as it’s so easy to forget. In my past, fear and excuses controlled my approach to situations I found myself uncomfortable in.  The past year has been spent rebuilding my way of thinking so I never lose sight of what I have that is positive and what is truly important.

Having a baby was the best moment of my life and being a mother has taught me far more about life than I would’ve ever guessed.  I know with certainty that without her I would’ve never grown in the way that I did. When I became a mother, I knew I had to think in a more healthy way, not only for my daughter but also for myself.

Being a single mom has not been easy so far and I’m sure there are plenty more difficult days to come.  Knowing one simple thing however makes all the difference.  There are things I cannot change and have no control over; I only control how I feel.  And when I choose to see the good in a situation instead of focusing on the negative, it changes everything in my life.  This way of thinking may sound intimidating and it can be at times, but with practice, is truly freeing.

After seeking therapy at school, I learned a visualization “trick” that has helped me adopt this way of thinking.  The key is to take everything in my life and put it into sections, like little imaginary suitcases.  Some suitcases are heavier than others and others are tiny carry-ons.  Some suitcases stay in my old life and I have no control over them, but only how I feel about them, and some I open daily with my daughter so I can be a happy, healthy mom.  One stays at school to keep those issues there, and the big suitcase that holds all of my inner doubts and insecurities is unlocked when I know I can handle what is inside of it, one day at a time.  There aren’t many doubts left inside of the big suitcase to deal with but in doing this, I now know that I can handle the obstacles that life throws my way and survive in spite of them.

For example, when I first began my journey as a single mom, I only focused on the negative things.  I didn’t have my own house and I was going to be divorced.  Obsessively focusing on these two insecurities affected every single thought I had about anything in my life.  It was like everything that happened was shadowed by these two thoughts and I was depressed.  Then being depressed made me feel like a bad mom and only added to my problem.  With the “suitcase method”, I’ve been able to see that my situation was only as bad as I let it make me feel.  Turning it around has helped me see that I am so lucky to have a family who could take us in during this difficult time, so we have an amazing support system and roof over our head.  In addition to that positive thought, being a single mom has made me a better student because I have something to prove because of the goals I want to achieve for us both.

Choosing to be grateful has helped me be a better mother, student, daughter, friend, and person.  I know that when the right person comes along I will be a better wife as well and I wouldn’t trade my past for lack of this knowledge any day.

Photo Credit: Flickr/Andréa Portilla

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