Sunday, May 31, 2020

An Exercise in Gratitude

For the last three months, I have been saying that I've lived in Krakow for six months. Well I finally counted it out on my fingers this week and it's actually been eight months! That realization was paired with a light panic; our original plan was to be here for one to four years, and if it has to be only one year then we are on the sad side of the halfway mark. There are so many things I want to do while living in Europe, and all of those plans can't fit into a four month window, even if there weren't travel restrictions to contend with.

But I've spent too much of late whining. I know I have a really good life, and I could benefit reminding myself of that. That's why I want to draft a list of some of the things I am grateful for. 
  • Experiencing a beautiful city- Krakow has been so fun to explore, and I still am amazed by the cleanliness and precision when I walk around downtown. I love seeing people sitting at outdoor tables in the plaza and learning about Polish history and culture through this city's lens. I especially love that there are so many options for walking routes: riverfront, hilly forest, beautify parks. 
  • A happy childhood- It was the fond memories from my childhood that made me so keen to move to Poland. Other than the time my little sister spat at me, I have very few unhappy memories, and science indicates that kids that are happy are more likely to grow up to be successful adults. 
  • Being able to see a castle from my apartment- This goes along with the first two points, but I love that if I'm feeling pensive I can gaze out at Wawel. It's also not the first time I've lived close to a castle. My from my childhood bedroom in Germany I was able to see three, and I like thinking that anytime I live somewhere new in Europe I will be close to ancient royalty.
  • Loving parents- Mom and Dad probably ought to be at the top of the list, but sometimes things are so good for so long that you forget that it's something to be thankful for. 
  • A caring husband- Cameron would not have moved here on his own, but he scarified his comforts for my wants. He puts up with a lot as my tag-along companion
  • Great in-laws- it's wonderful having a second family who is welcoming and loving.
  • Friendships that persist even when the physical distance is extreme- I have friends that I talk to weekly, and some that I only see every 10 years, and I am grateful for all of them. Missing my friends isn't a strong motivation to move back to the US, because I know those friendships will remain regardless of how long I live here. Note the less, it's extra special that many of those friends are trying to visit me while I live in Poland. 
  • Knowing how to cook- I'm not a mastered chef, but I know that my emotions are stonefly connected to what I eat, so it's nice that I can eat tasty and healthy food without having to rely on restauranteurs to provide them. 
  • Being financially comfortable and stable- We are so lucky to be able to buy what we need when we need it, and not worry that we will have to sacrifice some other necessity. We can afford to be flexible and when plans don't work out we can afford the cancellation fees and move onto plan B.
  • Being healthy and fit- I feel so much happier after exercising, and I especially look forward to our extended outdoor adventures. 
  • People who acknowledge my skills and value- I get frustrated with the stresses of work, but I like that I have always worked with smart, competent people and that my competencies are equally appreciated. 
  • Limited fear for my safety- I cannot speak eloquently to the racism and injustice that the United States is currently contending with, but I am so thankful that I have not every worried that I was going to be unjustly punished or harmed. I feel especially safe living where I do in Poland. 
  • The Happiness Lab podcast- I've only listed to the first episode, but it's the reason I decided to compile this list. One of the messages was that being happy is hard work, because sadness and selfishness can become a comfortable nest that you don't want to leave. 
I am so thankful that I've been able to live here, at least for a little while, and I will be elated if we stay beyond the one-year mark. Even if I don't get to do everything I want, this has been such a wonderful eight months, and I am thankful for the experiences I have had.

I'm working on appreciating little things more. A friend and I found this English book store this week, and it was so cozy and comfortable, and nice and small, and not overwhelming. 

Being charitable is another recommendation from The Happiness Lab to make you happier, especially if it's for causes you feel close to. This week Cameron and I participated in WWU Give and and the TBTLathon.

Find appreciation in the little things- like these goofball pigeons that kept jumping over each other while fighting over some food scrap.

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