1. All the pain you’ve pulled yourself through.
When our lives go off the rails, we tend to slip into survival mode – doing whatever needs to be done to change our situation and then moving on from it as swiftly as possible. We scarcely stop to acknowledge just how much strength and tenacity it takes to keep us going through those times. This year, make a point to acknowledge the person who wiped your tears, pulled you through your toughest hours and got you to where you are today. Because that person’s you. And they deserve some thanks.
2. All of the times you’ve stayed strong for other people.
When shit hits the fan, it’s an unspoken rule that at least one person has to hold it together so that everyone else can fall apart. Start giving yourself some credit for all the times when that person’s been you. It’s a thankless but honorable role – and it’s one that not everyone can handle.
3. The failures you tried for in the first place.
We lament endlessly over our downfalls but we rarely stop to pat ourselves on the back for actually having gone after what we wanted. It doesn’t always work out – that’s a necessary consequence of taking risks. But in the long run, becoming the kind of person who takes those risks is a much greater feat than any one individual failure could ever eclipse.
4. The work you do just to keep yourself alive.
The job you don’t love, but work anyway. The side hustle you’re keeping afloat. The education you keep hacking away at, knowing it will lead you to better things or the student loans you’re dutifully paying down. We rarely give ourselves credit for the ‘bare minimum’ behaviours we engage in to keep ourselves afloat, but in the long run, they make all the difference. And they’re necessary evils that not everybody is up to fighting.
5. The second chances that you have granted.
Not all second chances are granted out of weakness. In most cases, it takes genuine strength to understand a situation from someone else’s side and allow them a chance at redemption – knowing that you’re risking personal pain in the process. Give yourself some credit for the people you’ve shown mercy to. You are deciding to be the bigger person that so many other people couldn’t be for you.
6. The mornings when you don’t feel like getting out of bed but do anyway.
Some people lose this battle more than they win it. If you’re always (or almost always) able to pull yourself up to face the day, even when you don’t want to, you’re probably doing better than you think.
7. The brilliant people you’ve brought into and kept in your life.
The people you have in your life aren’t a coincidence: they’re a direct reflection of the energy you’re putting out into the world. So if you’re surrounded by some top-notch human beings, chances are you’re pretty solid company yourself.
8. All of the unhealthy shit you’ve walked away from.
Recognizing that a job, relationship, situation or thought pattern is toxic is infinitely harder than most of us realize. Any time you’re able to identify something that’s unhealthy for you and make the conscious choice to remove it from your life, you’re a step ahead of most of the population.
9. All of the healthy relationships you’ve nurtured.
We spend so much time focused on the relationships that have fallen apart that we rarely take the time to appreciate the ones that haven’t. This year, pause to consider the friendship you have that have spanned decades, the coworkers you’ve turned into confidants and the family members you’ve grown steadily closer to as you’ve aged. Chances are, your life is bursting with healthy relationships – you just don’t stop to fully consider or appreciate them.
10. The ambitions you haven’t yet risen to.
You may not be living your dream right now, but the fact that you even have one speaks volumes. Don’t discount the power of having a clear-cut goal to work towards – positive motivation is powerful. Having faith that you can get to where you want to go is so often half the battle.
11. The achievements you’ve collected in the past.
It’s an unfortunate consequence of the human condition that our failures tend to stand out more prominently than our triumphs. This year, when you look over your past achievements, take a moment to reflect on how many challenges you’ve risen to and how many trials you’ve overcome. Chances are you have a long list of accomplishments and feats – you just keep forgetting to give yourself credit for them.
12. The well-meaning intentions you harbour.
Here’s the deal: we all screw up sometimes. We all turn left when we should have turned right and we all make mistakes that we hold ourselves accountable for, sometimes for far too long.
But in the midst of that it’s important to pause and consider not just what actions we took, but what our intentions were. A lot of the time, we had perfectly good intentions when we made our mistakes. And those intentions count for something. They remind us who we want to be, and who we want to be matters.
13. The determination you harness.
Take a minute. Look at all the times you’ve gotten knocked down in life. And then look at all of the times you’ve gotten back up. If those numbers are even roughly equivalent, chances are you’re doing just fine. At the end of the day, it’s determination that gets you through, far more than your skills or abilities. Having a strong sense of it means you also have more power than you know.
14. The support you’ve given others at their worst.
It’s easy to love someone when things are going well. What takes true strength and endurance is loving someone through the rough spots in their lives- the times that make them into small and miserable versions of themselves. Give yourself some credit for the people you’ve seen through the worst – that’s the mark of a real friend. The kind of friend we all need.
15. The mistakes you have realized.
Nobody gets through life without messing a few things up along the way. But a lot of people get through life without ever taking accountability for what they’ve messed up. If you’re able to do so – and to repent for the things you’ve done wrong – you’re ahead of the game. You have a self-awareness that most people do not possess.
16. The love you don’t question.
The people you support without hesitation. The people whose sides you rush to when things go wrong. The love you dole out without a second thought – that kind of devotion is rare. And if it’s a love that you’re actively practicing, you’re probably making a much stronger impact on the people around you than you realize.
17. The love you do question.
Just as important as the love that comes naturally to you is the love that doesn’t. The family members you’ve struggled to reconcile with. The relationships you’ve worked hard to salvage. The love that you continue to choose when times are tough – all of it says infinitely more about you than the love that you choose when the sailing’s smooth. This year, take the time to appreciate the relationships you have fostered and salvaged against all odds.
18. Your optimism when things are grim.
When the cards are stacked against us, giving into self-pity and pessimism is the easiest thing in the world. Remaining optimistic and headstrong throughout the storms that life sends our way is an immensely underrated quality. And it’s one that you’re probably not giving yourself enough credit for.
19. The humour you can shed on tough situations.
The ability to laugh at oneself is a truly underrated one. If you are able to find any semblance of humor within the pain and heartache that life sends your way, you’re the exact kind of person the world needs more of. Laughter is a healing quality. And those who can dole it out are absolutely irreplaceable.
20. The values you refuse to compromise on.
Many of our values shift and evolve over the course of our lives. But a select few remain consistent, and we rarely stop to give ourselves props for holding true to those. Those are almost always the values we intuitively know to be right. And to remain true to what we know to be right over the course of an entire lifetime is definitely no easy feat.
21. The lofty pipe dream you’re still holding onto.
Being wildly idealistic is often a frowned upon quality – but it shouldn’t be. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” Keeping your lofty dreams alive in a world of realists is a noble battle to fight – and those who win it are the ones who go on to make real changes.
22. The humility you practice when you need to.
The unglamorous jobs you work to support yourself while you pursue bigger dreams. The apologies you offer up when you know they’re warranted. The hard, gritty work that you don’t shy away from when you know you need to buckle down. Humility is an underrated quality in our current society and it’s one that takes you further than you probably give it credit for.
23. All the times you’ve proven yourself wrong.
Think of all the people, situations, failures, misgivings and mistakes that it once felt like you’d never get over. And yet here you are, still living. Still growing. Still striving and thriving and carrying on. You have proven yourself wrong an infinite number of times in the past and you will absolutely do so again in the future. Give yourself some credit for all of the odds you’ve already overcome.
24. The ways in which you’ve already changed for the better.
It’s easy to become so focused on who we want to become that we forget about all the people we’ve been in the past – and all the ways in which we’ve already evolved into stronger, kinder, bolder versions of ourselves. This year, take a moment to consider not just where you want to go, but where you’ve been. And all the awesome changes you have already made for yourself.