Last week, my friend sent me a message in which she was panicking about her forthcoming birthday. She was turning 28. How can I be turning 28, I haven’t achieved this, I haven’t done that, my life is stagnant, everything is sad.
On the surface, many people will dismiss this as just birthday blues but this dissatisfaction with our lives is serious problems that eat away at our happiness.
I was one of those dissatisfied, unhappy people. I had a perfectly laid out plan. By 22 I would graduate from the University, serve the country at 23, get a job and start my Masters degree at 24, graduate at 25.5 then start a PhD and have my doctorate before I turned 30!
First off, ASUU didn’t even allow me graduate at 22. I was almost 24 when I graduated. I thought that was just a minor setback but then, my final semester results mysteriously got missing and it took two years before the school could solve the problem. I went for NYSC at 26! I didn’t even start the master’s degree until I was 27.
I used to say those years were the worse of my life, the constant waiting, seeing my friends and former classmates “progress” while I was stagnant. On my birthdays I would be very sad and cry and ask God why he was being unfair to me.
I learnt in those years that there are situations we have control over, and some that we can do nothing about but wait, and while we are waiting the best thing to do is to practice gratitude.
Practicing gratitude means appreciating what you have instead of focusing of the things you want that are out of your reach. In those my waiting years, if I hadn’t kept a journal, I would have forgotten that I got a job, I was able to move away from home and rent my own place in Lagos. I was supporting my family financially, and by the time I was cleared for NYSC, I had been promoted into a senior position at work.
Imagine going to NYSC as a senior staff of an organisation. Sadly, I couldn’t see or acknowledge the progress I made; all I was focused on was that “I wasn’t moving forward.”
I have since started practicing gratitude as a way of life. So, when my friend reached out with that message, I was able to preach the gospel of gratitude to her. It is human nature to always want things. When we achieve goal A, we immediately want goal B. If you are unable to appreciate the steps that took you to goal A, when you get to B, you’ll remain dissatisfied, living a life of continuous longing and wanting.
Practising gratitude means we have to appreciate what we have, focus on the present and the situations we can control while we remain hopeful about the future. Practice gratitude today!