Finding and Expressing Gratitude in the Real World

I used to find myself complaining about things - whether big or small - a lot. Not to say that this habit has been completely eliminated, but it has reduced dramatically as I experienced more hardships and matured over the years. 

In an increasingly globalized day and age where we’re constantly divided, feeling embattled and shamed for the way we express ourselves, our opinions and live our lives…it’s hard not to just bitch about it. Just some recent examples are the #OscarSoWhite controversy, Gabrielle Union’s shadiest drag of Stacey Dash (which I totally approve of) and the blazing debates (some great, some besotted) of the presidential candidates of 2016. One innocent (or intentioned) knee-jerk reaction could go viral in perpetuity and possibly live on forever at the expense of your reputation. It’s a difficult time to be on the Internet, as an audience and participant. 

Hate to break it to you - but it’s not going to get any better. There will always be trolls to draw fire to your ire. 

In light of all this and being older now (I am in my late 20s, in case you all wanted to know), I decided to draw the line. That line remains rather elusive, but I imagine myself really pushing it to its limits. What is that line? To combat all the social/digital/verbal negativity we encounter with gratitude. 

Joe Jeans turtleneck sweater / Join Chapter long cardigan / Dolce & Gabbana reflective sunglasses / Saint Laurent ankle boots

Hailing from a traditional and strict Chinese household, I’ve always embraced the idea of being grateful but never fully committed to the idea of putting it in practice. My mother would constantly badger me on my dinner etiquette (“finish every grain of rice - there are starving children all over the world!”) or harp on and on about appreciation for the everyday luxuries of shelter, water and electricity. The concept of gratitude has surrounded me all my life, from the moment I started to walk, feel and talk. 

Aside from these lessons on gratitude early on, many more followed as I dove into my professional career after college. I once had to put on a Happy Star suit for a Carl’s Jr. event I was helping put together, because we were short-staffed at the time. I balked and resisted - at first - because of how damped and unwieldy the suit was. But my eagerness to get ahead and succeed prevailed. In the aftermath, I did feel a little embarrassed and even defeated. This is now a story I share often and with fondness. These same but humbling obstacles will always emerge, no matter what stage of life you’re in. Paying your dues and learning to better yourself are constants that’ll take you farther than you’d ever imagine. It just depends on far you really want to go. 

During my meditation sessions (more on this at a later time, but it really really helps highly-anxious individuals like me), I keep gratitude on the top of my mind. The act of doing so, I find, is so restorative. It recalibrates our empathy for humanity and the world outside of our own bubbles. We take so much for granted everyday; gratitude puts that into perspective - at least for me. It’s gotten me this far. 

While I should be packing for upcoming back-to-back trips at the moment, I wanted to take the time to express my gratitude for your support over the years. None of this would even exist without it, including this awesome nomination from Shorty Awards. If you’d take the time to vote for me, please do so here. 

Thank you all again - let’s talk soon.