Last night I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland (home of the Ravens- but no I am not a fan!). It rained as soon as we got into town (read: down poured). Huge streaks of lightning, loud thunder, it was a legitimate summer storm. It passed pretty quickly though and we were able to grab a bite to eat before the show. The show was fantastic, even magical. I am not a concert-goer usually, but when we found out that Justin would be coming so close back in February- it seemed like a good exception to the rule.
When Jay-Z came out to do his part of the concert (they went back and forth) he sang “Hard Knock Life”. For a little background on this next part, any time I encounter an absurd problem (example: not being able to find the right color pink to paint my nails), I always look at my husband and exasperatedly say “It’s so HARD to be an Emily!” When “Hard Knock Life” started playing I was about 5 seconds from leaning over to husband to say, “Hey maybe this can be my new jingle” when I really thought about what I was about to say. It’s silly but I thought about Annie, or a group of small children on the street of a city, singing this song. I thought about what it really meant to live a “hard knock life” and all the sudden I was immensely grateful, thankful, and aware of how blessed I am.
I grew up my whole life with two parents who loved me and worked hard every day to provide for me the best life they could. Every year until I was fourteen (when my own schedule became too busy) we took family vacations up and down the east coast. Every fall and spring my mother took us shopping for new clothes. I learned how to play flute, tried a handful of sports, and even more hobbies. I graduated from high school free of scars from bullying, free of stress from overbearing parents, free of harmful “habits”. I had friends, I had opportunities. I had the world at my feet. I got to go to college. I obtained a good degree. I found jobs quickly in college, never struggling or working somewhere I didn’t enjoy. I mentioned to a professor I was looking for a local internship and lucked into a fantastic opportunity that became a career. I bought a house, I got two dogs, and have a healthy relationship with my husband (which life has taught me is more of a blessing than I would ever have realized).
And then I realized where I was. Actually, it was a friends post on instagram that really made me appreciate it. I was sitting in a major league football stadium, mere hundreds of feet away from musical “superstars”. Sure, the stadium was packed, and thousands were having the same experience, but I was experiencing something that other people might not ever dream of doing. I’ve always been so fortunate to get to experience life to it’s fullest, that some times it takes seeing someone whose never experienced it before (or just really good at appreciating their life) to make you see how truly great life is.
I’ve never really understood how gratitude and happiness worked together. For the past few weeks I’ve been really focusing on being happy. Writing down things that happen to me that are positive, and not giving negative things the attention. Last night I realized how much easier it is to be cheerful and happy when you don’t take everything in your life as a given. It is so easy to fall into a trap of thinking that you deserve things, but when you look at things as a blessing, or an opportunity, instead of something you’re entitled to everything in life seems so much more wonderful.
Let me know your thoughts. I try and ask questions to get people to leave feed-back on these blogs, and I’m not sure what to ask this time around. I just wanted to capture the feeling of pure gratitude and share it with anyone who reads this.