Why I Gratitude

Gratitude refers to an attitude of thankfulness and a desire to show appreciation for an action or event. Taken a step further, gratitude refers to an appreciation of what you have in your life – no matter how small. It is an appreciation of small kindnesses that are offered to us in our daily lives. It is only recently that showing gratitude has become vogue – and yet it is an attitude that should be an important part of our daily lives and thoughts.

Showing gratitude is not a habit followed by those who participate in the fast-paced modern world. Instead, daily actions are taken for granted and circumstances are expected as a right. Many people I come into contact with in my daily life look no further than the people in their immediate circle, comparing their lives with those they meet. The broader experience of others in the world is often ignored, or pushed to the back of their minds.

I have noticed a few people have taken up the banner of gratitude in the western world and, in doing so, are moving towards feeling more in tune with themselves and the world they inhabit. Gratitude does help us to experience positive emotions (optimism, enthusiasm, love, joy, happiness) while it moves us away from experiencing destructive emotions (envy, greed, bitterness, resentment). An attitude of gratitude helps us to find contentment within ourselves and the environment in which we live.

So what can we be grateful for? Firstly for ourselves: for our health, our inner strength, our ability to adapt and learn. It may even be something as small as being able to get up everyday and make ourselves our own breakfast, breakfast that we have the money to buy. The trick is to finding the positive in ourselves and to focus on that instead of what we can find wrong in our lives.

Secondly, we can be grateful for the things in our environment: our home, the people who love us, our workplace, something positive about our work colleagues. It is so easy to focus on the negative; so easy to gossip about things that are not done to our satisfaction. Do you not feel lighter and more content when you focus on the positive and what you are grateful for in a conversation? I know I do.

Thirdly we can be grateful for the small kindnesses that are done to us: a cup of tea that is made without request, a colleague dropping by and bringing us the mail, an unexpected visit by a close friend, a hug by someone you know because they see that you need it. Noticing these small things is what makes me content with my life. I have no need to wish for what others have when I notice that what I have suits me and makes me happy.

Since July 2014, I have been writing Gratitude posts on my blog (you can read the posts here). Writing these posts have helped me to focus on the varied things in my life that I have to be grateful for. It is so easy to focus on one thing but, in order to make my posts varied, my reflections have led me to write on a variety of topics each week. Every week I invite readers to share what they are grateful for in the comments or a post of their own. Reading other people’s thoughts encourages me to realise even more things that I have to be grateful for in my life.

Will you join me in reflecting on what you are grateful for?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to the Ragtag Daily Prompt. Today the topic is Gratitude.)

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Grateful for Family Dinner

Our son has flown into the city for a few days to work and was able to spend some time with us on Saturday. The four of us were excited to see him and could not wait to catch up. We decided to meet him for dinner and take him out to a new Chinese restaurant in our neighbourhood. We all enjoy eating Dim Sum because of the variety of choice and, of course, the chance to eat family style.

Family Style Dinner © Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

We spent the evening catching up on one another’s stories, chatting about the future, and reminiscing on the past. If we could have, we would have extended the moment but alas, we had to sleep!

What are you grateful for this week? And what has made you smile?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is part of my weekly gratitude reflection and is linked to Trent’s Weekly Smile challenge.)

Grateful for Learning Experience

This week I am spending time to learn for the written exam that I have this weekend. As you may remember, I registered for the Canfitpro course in order to be a group fitness instructor. My intention is to share my love of Zumba with others.

Reading through the coursework I could not help but smile as it takes me back to high school and to when I did Biology. Even though getting the information into my head is slow, I am grateful for the opportunity I have to learn the material. It is interesting and it has helped me realise what exactly it is that makes a good group fitness instructor.

What are you grateful for this week? And what has made you smile?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is part of my weekly gratitude reflection and is linked to Trent’s Weekly Smile challenge.)

Youth Arts Program Exhibition

This year both of my daughters submitted their art work to the Youth Arts Program for the exhibition that takes place every year at the Ontario Legislative Assembly. On Monday evening we attended the opening event. Even though the wind was extremely strong, we bundled up and took the journey to Queen’s Park. It was not hardship for me to do this as I want to support my children in all their efforts in order to encourage them in the pursuit of their dreams. It is a big step for them to put their art out into the world – especially my younger daughter who is not as confident as her big sister.

After the speech given by the First Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, we had the opportunity to look at all the art on display. The art comes from all over Ontario and is produced by children ages 12 – 18. There is some really good art on display. Of course I could not help but smile when I saw my daughters’ work.

Abstract Art by my Eldest Daughter. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

My eldest daughter was disappointed when she saw her art work was placed upside down. She was pleased, however, at having her work displayed in the Legislative Assembly for all visitors to see.

A piece created with markers and pencil. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

My youngest daughter does beautiful work with ink. This was the first time she has submitted work for any event and I was very proud of her courage to do so this year. She was also beaming to see her work on display.Monday evening saw both my husband and I smiling. We are so grateful that our children have the opportunity to shine.

What are you grateful for this week? And what has made you smile?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is part of my weekly gratitude reflection and is linked to Trent’s Weekly Smile challenge.)

Grateful for School Closure

Yesterday I woke up to the news that the school board had closed the schools due to the weather – we were in for a snow storm which would later turn onto an ice storm. The news was unexpected as the last two times in the past few weeks that we had had bad weather with slippery roads, the school board I worked for had kept their schools open even though other school boards had closed theirs. Looking outside as the snow fell to the ground and whitened our environment, I was glad I could stay inside. I had a moment’s thought to venture outside but the howling wind encouraged me to change my mind.Not only would I be battling against the wind, but the sidewalks would not be cleared of snow.

This week I am grateful for the school closure. Not only did I have the opportunity to relax and read at home, I also did not have to venture out into the snow storm, struggle against the wind, and make my way through fallen snow.

Processed with RookieWhat have you been grateful for this week? Share your comments or the link to your post below.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

Grateful for a Warm Home

Last week Friday the temperatures dropped and we were reminded that we are in the middle of Winter. Previous to this, we had experienced mild days – so mild that it felt like Spring! Old Man Winter decided to show his true colours and gave us a brutal few days.

Monday began with me stepping out into -33c temperatures and I walked hurriedly to work, bending my head against the icy winds. I did not even take time to enjoy the snow white snow that had fallen on the ground. My only thought was to escape the frigid temperatures and enter a warm building.

As always when it is so cold, my thoughts turn to those who do not have a home to protect themselves from the elements. Since I have moved to Toronto, I have noticed that the number of people living on the street has increased. Reasons for homelessness are cited as being the increasing cost of rental properties in the city, increasing poverty, the de-institutionalisation of mental health care, as well as factors of abuse. I always hope that those in charge of the city would open their hearts and step up for those without a home. I do acknowledge, though, that this is a dream that has not yet become a reality. The homeless are powerless and, as such, do not garner the attention of politicians.

The extreme cold weather has brought to the forefront of my mind how lucky I am to have a warm home that keeps me out of the cold. Not only do I have shelter, but I also have access to a reliable heating system that allows me to be comfortable. This week I am grateful for my home: a shelter that keeps me and my family warm throughout the cold Winter days.

Processed with RookieWhat have you been grateful for this week? Share your comments or the link to your post below.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

Grateful for Stress-Free Preparations

It is that time of year when most people are bustling around getting ready for the Christmas festivities. Homes are being decorated, and gifts are being bought online and offline. It is a time when many people are stressed with all the planning and gift buying that they feel they have to do.

Currently I am not feeling stress brought on by Holiday preparations. My gifts are bought (albeit still unwrapped) and my freezer stocked. This weekend I shall put up our tree with my children’s help, and I will begin to clean our space for the Christmas period. The most important thing during Christmas is the time that we spend days together as a family – and that doesn’t take much sorting. My children will be happy to open a few gifts, and my husband will be satisfied to eat his favourite pastries and food. This year my eldest daughter wants to go and out and do some family activities. Which ones will be decided on when our son arrives next week.

This week I am grateful that I am not feeling any of the stress brought on by the Holidays. Instead I am looking forward to the family time that I will have with all the children present. This has always been my favourite time of year – and this year is no different.

Processed with RookieWhat have you been grateful for this week? Share your comments or the link to your post below.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Grateful for Toronto International Festival of Authors

Last weekend I realised, once again, how lucky I am to be living in the city of Toronto. Because I live in this metropolis, I am able to attend events such as the Toronto International Festival of Authors.

On Friday, we went to the first event that we had booked – In Conversation with Miriam Toews. I have not read any of her books but I was intrigued by the synopsis of her latest novel Talking Women. The hall was filled to the brim and I was pleased we had arrived early to get a seat near the front. The talk with the author was interesting (she had grown up in a Mennonite community) and, as she spoke about the story of Mennonite women deciding what to do after a group rape, I knew that I would read her novel.

The second event that we attended last weekend was a panel discussion featuring Kelley Armstrong, Michael Robotham, and Amy Stuart. My cousin had chosen this event as Michael Robotham is one of his favourite authors while I was interested to listen to Amy Stuart (I had read her latest novel Still Water). The panel discussion was riveting and I loved how different (and yet at times similar) the authors answered the questions. I could have listened to them for longer and was disappointed when the time was up.

This week I am grateful for the Toronto International Festival of Authors. The festival has given me the opportunity to listen to some well-known authors – those from Canada as well as those from other countries.

Processed with RookieWhat have you been grateful for this week? Share your comments or the link to your post below.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

A Thanksgiving Reflection

Today it is Thanksgiving in Canada – a day that has been set aside to give thanks. Originally this day was set aside for Canadians to give thanks for the harvest and for all the blessings the people in the country had experienced during the past year. Now, as I celebrate the holiday with so many other fellow Canadians, I reflect on what I personally have to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving is not a holiday I grew up with; instead it is one I adopted when moving to this country so far north from where I was born. I like that it is a reflective one that encourages people to spend time with family and close friends. For me, it has also come to mean a time when Fall truly begins and people’s attention is focused on certain celebrations (Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas). It is the beginning of a time of year, and of a season, that I particularly enjoy.

When I reflect on what I am thankful for I always think of my needs and the fact that I have a place to call my home, that I am never hungry, and that I have a loving and caring family. I am always grateful, as well, for my own health and the health of my family. Each day as I walk to work, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work at the school that I do, and to have the chance to work with a wonderful group of children. I am really lucky to work where I do at a school that is so close to home.

This year I am also grateful for the fact that I have made a connection with the people at the Harper Collins Canada Publishing House. Through them, I have been able to attend author events, and have been introduced to so many authors – many of them Canadian. As I am reading the books that I do, I am grateful to the authors that write their stories and bring me so much joy. I do prefer reading the hard copies of books, and am thankful that the digital versions have not swept away the bookstores and the feel of turning over a physical page of a novel.

As I sit here typing my post, I feel contented with what I have and experience in my life. There may be more for me around the corner and in the upcoming year but, for now, I am thankful for where I am.

If, like me, you live in Canada, I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. May your celebrations warm you from within. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Grateful for Shelter

One of the basic human needs is shelter: a place to protect ourselves from the elements, a place to keep warm, a place to call home. During the last two days not only has the temperature dropped dramatically, it has also been wet. Grey clouds have covered our skies, and the wet has been constant. Our weather has reminded us that summer is over and a new season has begun.

As I walked home yesterday I was reflecting on the change of season and how lucky I was to be able to have a place to call home. Each year as the summer surrenders to the cooler weather, I think of the homeless and their daily struggle to find a warm place to rest out of the elements. Each day I unlock the door to my home with relief. A joy that the homeless do not experience.

This week I am grateful to have my home. It may be simple and a little overcrowded but at least I am safe from the outside elements. At least one of my basic needs are being met.

Processed with RookieWhat have you been grateful for this week? Share your comments or the link to your post below.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018