Struggles, gratitude, and pride

(Apparently I like 3-word blog titles now.)

In a post the other day I suggested writing/thinking about what you’re currently struggling with, and what you’re currently grateful for, at the same time. The idea behind this was that it can be useful to acknowledge what’s going on that’s difficult for us -but we want to be careful to avoid over-indulging our own suffering. Similarly, we want to appreciate the things we have that are good, without feeling like we therefore must be happy. Doing struggle-journalling and gratitude-journalling in tandem seems like it might help avoid these problems, by sort of balancing each other out.

So here are some of the things I’ve been struggling with, and some of the things I’ve been particularly grateful for, recently. I’m also going to add on some things I feel particularly good about or proud of, just because I like this as an alternative/additional way of framing the gratitude exercise.


  • I’ve been struggling to muster much motivation to work at the moment. I think some of this has to do with becoming overwhelmed by all this negative pressure I’m putting on myself, as I talked about previously.
  • More specifically, I’m trying to write a lot of stuff for my PhD but feel quite anxious/quite a lot of self-doubt around it, which means I procrastinate so I don’t have to face those feelings, which only makes me feel worse about it…
  • I’ve also had a bit too much social stuff over the last few days, and a bit too much travel – which while a lot of fun, has meant less work and less sleep. This means I feel more easily upset and overwhelmed by things, and generally doesn’t help with the first couple of things.
  • I’ve been trying to make a few fairly big life decisions, and feeling stressed about that. I’ve only just started to realise the extent to which I’m (perhaps irrationally) afraid of making the “wrong” decision, and how that creates a lot of emotional struggle around decision making. I’m feeling a bit better having realised this though.
  • I still feel a lot of stress around all the small things I’m not doing, all the ways I’m not on top of my life.
  • I haven’t quite figured out how to get the right kind and right balance of social interaction in my life without getting overwhelmed by it.


  • I have the freedom to basically work as, when and where I like – something I’ve realised over the past year is really important to me. I love that everything I decide to do during the day I’m doing because on some level I’ve decided I want to, not because I have someone else telling me to.
  • For all my stresses about my work, I generally get to do work I think is both interesting and important, and I have a lot of options for potentially exciting things to do in the future. (In fact, it’s this abundance of great options that causes a lot of the stress around decisions, which makes me feel extra-bad about struggling with that…)
  • I have a lot of amazing, thoughtful, supportive friends all over the world.
  • (related to above) Skype (and similar). Skype is awesome.
  • I live right next to a big park, with a lake, where I can go for a walk whenever I want a break.
  • Coffee. And coffee shops. All the nice coffee shops near my house make me happy (even if a lot of them are a little pretentious – at least they have delicious coffee.)
  • I enjoy exercising. I know so many people struggle to get themselves to do this thing that’s really good for you, and I basically have no difficulty doing it. Partly because I’ve built a good exercise habit, but partly just because I think I naturally enjoy it more than average.


  • Yesterday, I roasted a whole cauliflower, and it was awesome. And I’m about to eat the second half of it now.
  • I’ve been fully vegan for several months now.
  • I’m writing this blog, and feeling like I’m getting a lot out of it.
  • This weekend I sorted out a bunch of bill and admin-related things I’d been procrastinating on for ages.
  • I recently started going to improv classes, which has been on my list of “things to do that are outside of my comfort zone but would probably be really good for me to do” for ages, and have been really enjoying it.
  • Today I worked on the thing that felt kind of aversive (because it was a piece of work I’d left for ages and am not currently super proud of), rather than the easy thing (e.g. reading papers), and feel like I made some good progress.

I don’t know how this will read to someone else (my worry would be that it seems overly self-indulgent at the negative end, and like boasting at the positive end) but it felt good for me personally – and like it helped me to strike a good balance between recognising the things I find difficult, and appreciating what I have and the things that are going well in my life.


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