Menos Mal: Gratitude in the Midst of Difficulty

Menos mal

This is an expression that means “luckily” or “good thing….”

Menos mal que trajimos comida de más. Good thing we brought extra food.

A couple of years ago, I started a journal about gratitude, trying to list two great things about every day. They normally ended up being about good food (tortilla de patata always ended up in there), but it was a fun exercise in looking for the positive. I have to admit it’s been a while since I consistently did this. I started a new one a few months ago, where I try writing a full page of things I’m grateful for using sentences rather than lists, and promptly gave up when life got in the way.

spanish omelette at gorbea

How could this NOT end up in everyone’s gratitude journals? #nom

Recently I was having a self-pity moment, thinking about all the wrong turns I made in the last year and the breakdown of important relationships. While sitting in my room in my woe-is-me moment, I saw it: that lime-green hardcover gratitude journal, its happy color practically begging me to pick it up. I rolled my eyes and thought, “yeah right, AS IF I’d have anything to write in there.” But something deeper urged me to take it anyway and give it a shot. In the end, I managed to come up with about half a page of things, which surprisingly changed my perspective. I also went back and read about previous things I had been grateful for, mostly tied to a specific person or place which no longer hold the same importance in my life. While the trip down memory lane got me a little sad, having already written about being grateful in the present helped me thank those past chapters and consider how to move forward in a positive way. It also got me thinking about while doing this practice, if it’s so hard to find things to be grateful for in the present, either a) I need a major attitude shift, or b) something in my external environment needs to change. Or both.


This year I’m working on setting some intentions for myself, while trying not to make them too vague, so I can narrow down some goals out of those intentions, and from there, see what changes need to be made. First, mindfulness: set aside 10 minutes each day for mindfulness practice, preferably first thing in the morning. Second, trying to disconnect from my phone more often – I don’t have a concrete goal in place yet though. Third, keeping up the trend of doing my 10-15 minutes of GMB Fitness exercises every weekday morning, putting a gold X on my calendar for each day I do it. Fourth, build my own portfolio page to get practice with designing. Additionally, design at least two other pages. Fifth, gratitude… write a page daily in my gratitude journal, maybe?


I recently became a member of the Interaction Design Foundation, where I’m working through some online course material that supplements things I was learning this past semester at UOC. The suggested problem-solving and product-creating method looks like this: Empathize – Define – Ideate – Prototype – Test. This is a non-linear cycle that gets repeated as many times as necessary. I like this approach to goal-setting as well, to remind me that even goals can and should be revised and tested.

Here’s to soul-searching, reflective Christmas vacations.

Though by halfway through the year, my goal list might end up looking like this:

whatsapp group joke

I obviously got this from a Whatsapp group.

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