Mizba's Story - An unusually usual journey

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Mizba: My name is Mizba Godal and I've been using the Gratitude app. I would start my journey with how I came across gratitude before going through my old childhood thing and all.

So I came across this app through one of my dear friends Sunanda, she stays in Australia and she is the one who had discovered this app during the lockdown period. And I remember it was August, 20th, or 29th of August, 2020 during the lockdown, and I was totally bored and I was not knowing actually what to do.

So I was just lying on my bed and I was just scrolling through the Instagram feeds. And all of a sudden I got a message from her, "Hi, how are you doing?" So, because of the time ellipse and all we were just discussing how's life is going, uh, how's everything around, work and everything.

And suddenly I was like, "Sunanda, what are you doing these days during lockdown to keep yourself sane?" Because it'd been almost a period of three to four months or during the lockdown, I was home and professionally, I am a teacher, I'm an educator.

So we were handling all the work from home. Because of the precautionary measure, it was almost a month, I hadn't gone out also. I was done with Netflix and chill and all these things. It's just not my cup of tea.

So I just asked her how well she is doing and all. And she just asked me that why do you want to go and explore the world outside? Why don't you just go and look inside yours? And I was like, this is all hypothetical term. These things won't exist in reality.

But I said, what, what do you actually mean? Like, can you just tell me? But she just told me that recently she has explored an app called Gratitude. And it's just like journaling your thoughts, just like how you write in your diary. If you don't have time, it's a great savior.

It's very tech-friendly, you can go and you can write down journal your thoughts wherever you want. So I said like, how it's going to help me? It's just like writing your random thoughts then how is it going to help me?

So she just told me that her experience was like, when she right down the thought, she has a habit of writing, she starts the day and she just reflects back upon how was her yesterday? What were her flaws or how what went well, what did not go well?

And she just feels so light about herself and she felt that we can know ourselves better. So I thought I'll give a shot at it. And then I started within two or three days, I said, I'll start by September. I started using it.

But initially, I felt like it was just like every other app on the Play Store, to be very honest. I just started it on a very casual note, like a day or two, I used to write two, three lines and I said, fine, it's going to work like that. But eventually what I found was that I actually started writing. I started enjoying more writing about my thoughts.

And then after two to three weeks, I found that I like to journal only my thoughts about what went good with me. What, what are the things which make me happy, cheerful?

And then I started understanding that, okay, now that is my motto. I don't want to journal anything, what went wrong in my day. So after two, three days, I was more clear, what are the ideas I'm going to put.

Thanks to the app it has a lot of great notifications and it helps you out what to write, what not to write, and slowly and gradually, that's how I started. Like from two to three sentences, I started ahead with a paragraph and there are few pages that I still go back and read.

I was like, what was I thinking back then? But I felt so good. I felt so good. I felt emotionally, whatever was there, which I was not able to speak to someone, even to my good friend also, I can put that thought into that. So it was a very good, stress-busting experience, I feel. So, that was great.

And so far I'm still enjoying that. I have recommended this app to a couple of my friends also, and I hope they are also enjoying the same. So yeah, it's good. That's my journey, I feel.

Aarushi: Okay. So before you started using the app, did you know about the concept of gratitude? Were you ever consciously being grateful for things?

Mizba: No. To be very honest, I do know the meaning of gratitude but practicing on a daily basis, becoming consistent was something I felt like, okay, if somebody gives me something or somebody has done for me, only then I should say, thank you.

And it's the way around. I felt it's just that way. But when I started reflecting upon a very small thing, which makes me happy, the sunshine or the bird chirping around, or a cup of tea, or getting a chumpi (head massage) from my mother that makes my day, I feel calmer.

If I have some fun conversation with my friend, I just journal it down. So I felt that there are so many things inside me with me as a person, which is very, very helpful. And instead of looking and finding happiness in others, it's better, you be grateful for what kind of person you are.

And I think gratitude is one fine app. When I get up in the morning, I just go and check the first notification, like what is the daily dose for me, and I focus upon that, it's always positivity around.

And then depending upon my mood, I can go, okay, fine, I have to go for my career mood or happy mood. There are a lot of things to be explored about. So I feel for me overall, it's very enriching, very humble. I have become a more grounded person, I feel.

After using this app, I have started giving random calls to my friends with whom I haven't been in contact for years. I randomly texted them. It wasn't their birthday. It wasn't any festival I just said, "Hey, I remember you and I hope you're doing well." And they were so happy to hear from me and say, "Mizba, how is it suddenly like this?"

And they felt so great. And we had a long, long conversation. So I feel being grateful and being humble, being humble to yourself, and not getting compared to anyone is the best feeling in the world. And I think this app, journaling down and all is one fine step, which can actually help you to become a better person.

Another thing, which I came across writing the thoughts was that I was neglecting my health a lot. In the teaching profession, most of the time I used to sit around and do a lot of the indoor activities and all, but I thought about how I want to portray myself to my students.

I want to be a fit person for them. And then I have started my workout journey also which also I have journalised. I have become a very, very, far better person, I should say. I have developed a personality after exploring this app, surely.

Aarushi: Okay. So you've seen a lot of improvements in yourself. Like you feel more humble, more grounded. How did it come to that point? What do you think made you more humble and grounded?

Mizba: I think the consistency and I feel the more time spent in thinking and reflecting upon your thoughts. I can't say that at this particular day or this particular time, I realized that I have changed myself.

But, I can say you can actually feel it, it's a kind of feeling that you get every single day, you are becoming a better person every single day. You feel the people around you are different with you, the way you work, and how you are now.

They treat you in a different way because we treat them with more gratitude, with more kindness, always a smile on the face, which I was totally not a person to do. I used to feel if I have to approach someone, let that person approach me first. Why should I?

And here it is as simple as that, why, what's wrong in giving smile? The person is going to smile back, you know? So it's kind of that. So I feel it's absolutely true the way we want to get treated, we have to treat the other themselves. So I feel that the way people treat me, I think that's the best feedback I'm getting that what I'm doing is I'm on the right path.

Aarushi: Yes. That is, that is quite right. And I'm learning a lot. So, your friend suggested the app to you, right? And she was saying that get to know yourself, go inward. So, so how did this experience also come into your life of getting to know yourself better?

Mizba: Definitely. I was always a person who kept myself first. I am the most spiritual person. I like to meditate whenever I get time. So I just like to shut down everything. And I just like to focus upon myself.

I want to be a better person for my parents, for my family. And just as being a human and in this world where everybody wants to become this, that, I just want to focus on what shall I do that I feel myself from all those cravings. And for that, I try to practice all those things.

It's very necessary for people to know that what should one do so that one can start knowing one's own worth. That is more important. And I think journaling is one of the fantastic ways to do so, I don't know people stay in a bookish tone, but it does work for me.

When you write your thoughts, when you think, you actually take a pause, you take a deep breath, whether I should put this word or not, what does this sentence mean to me. For me, whatever things I put down, I genuinely mean each and every sentence which I have experienced throughout my day. So yeah, this works for me.

Aarushi: When you got into journaling, you'd write about things that are going well in your life, mostly. But times are not that reliable and sometimes you go through tough days. So what do you do during those times? How do you motivate yourself to find something good to write about?

Mizba: Whenever the days are bad, I just think and try to visualize. I know what things are going wrong, so I shut down for a while. I don't think about that particular moment, either I go in the past where everything was well, and I try to visualize that things will be fine.

Every problem has a solution and I'll get through it. It's just something that I need to work upon right now. I'm not getting to the possible solution, but it doesn't mean that I'm not willing to get through it. I just take a pause.

I like reading books a lot. Random stuff, I've noticed that if I take a book I'll complete it whole. So I read random things whenever I feel I'm having a bad day, that's the best thing. I read online eBooks.

One of the books app which I'm into for a year is a booklet, it's called Mission Read India. I have heard a lot of TED talks from its founder, Amrut Deshmukh. And he told that whenever you are in a dilemma, you don't know what to do, if you're having a bad day, just read randomly, just don't think, just pick up any subject and read about it.

And immediately you will shift your attention from the things bothering you. Once that attention has shifted automatically your mind will start processing what went wrong and you will find a way.

So I read randomly when I have a bad day, that's it. And I try to write down some quote or in a very dramatic way, or I listen to some music or I talk to my friend, someone whom I'm very close with.

One of my best friends, her name is Benazir. And recently I have made another very good friend Krishna. And I have a very dear friend Rhea who is a psychologist. So they are always my go-to friends. I can speak to them anytime, anything, and they always are the best guide for me.

Aarushi: So, how long have you been journaling for gratitude?

Mizba: I feel the coming month, September 6th is going to be one year full with the Gratitude app. Before that I used to journal, I have a mini diary with me. I used to journal, but my brother and my friends got the diary. I don't want to keep it in a secretive way, but I think on the phone it's much better.

Aarushi: You feel freer when you're writing. You won't have to be scared that sometimes somebody else is going to read it. So since the last year, how regular have you been? Do you write every day or do you take some days and right in between? How is the process?

Mizba: For me, I have tried to be as consistent as possible. I feel in between I have broken the streak otherwise like 300, 400 days I have maintained. Till now I try to be consistent.

What I do is before going to bed, I always journal it down. Other people have the habit of writing in the morning whereas I write before bed.

I reflect upon my whole day from the time I get up till the time it ends, and all good things, whether it's, you're getting a new shoe or some good words exchange between friends or family or getting a compliment from my students that, "Miss, today the class went well." Even that makes my day. So, I do it in that way.

Aarushi: So, since you are a teacher? Have you talked to your students about gratitude?

Mizba: Of course! Every now and then, whenever there is a class, the last five minutes I always focus upon and tell them that in life, whatever, you become whatever subject you opt for, that respect, that being humble, being kind, that thing is going away, I feel.

In this technological world, people are becoming more narcissistic and they feel that they are only something. They're forgetting about just being kind to everyone. Kindness is something very, very important, not just to the teacher, to your elders, to the peons, to the masi who works for the school.

And we have to look at everyone and treat everyone on a very equal basis. Unless and until we don't understand each other, the work they do, the kind of hard work they put in, we have to respect.

Once you develop that sense of respect, kindness, the humbleness, the rest of the things will automatically loop around.

So I always suggest them. You also write down what is your good possession? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? I have taught them to do SWOT analysis as well. So you can work upon your strengths and it can help you. So surely, I do share it with my students, definitely.

I would also like to share one of the incidents of my students. My students have such great gestures that we also are astonished that they can think from that perspective.

So I remember it was like before lockdown in September, it was Teachers' Day celebration, and all the students had planned a surprise for the teachers.

Everybody has dressed up like their favorite teachers or whichever teacher they wanted to imitate. And there was one child, his name was Priyanshu and he had dressed up as one of our school peons.

He said that everybody's equal. And they themselves are also a great teacher, they do great work. Without them, the school is not going to function that well, and everybody had applauded him.

And he was like a shining student for that, everybody was like praising him a lot. So that reminded me that our students are really humble.

Aarushi: How old was Priyanshu then?

Mizba: Uh, I guess he must've been 14 or 15, must be in college now.

Aarushi: Oh, wow. That is amazing. I would have loved to see that in my school.

Mizba: How cool is that? Like nobody ever imagined and the person whom he had tried to imitate was so numb. He had never expected that everybody was becoming some of the other teachers.

And he was like, we just have to dress up in a very simple tone, he said, "I'm Rupesh Bhai". And everybody, there was a huge clap and everybody was so joyous, like, wow, that is actually what our students are doing, they're doing well.

Aarushi: Alright. So what do you do to maintain this attitude of gratitude as people say, what are you doing in your life apart from journaling? Is there anything else that you do and how do you keep being consistent at this daily, in other parts of your life or relationships?

Mizba: I think speaking and listening to one another, likewise, conversations are also very important. If you want to maintain a good relationship with your students, with your friends, anyone around, you have to be a very good listener.

You have to be very patient with them whenever they come up with even the silliest topic, you know, you just can't deny. And even if you're in the worst mood, you cannot just ignore them.

Just acknowledge them, give them time, at least for five minutes to hear them out. And when you hear you feel in that silliest conversation also, they're trying to express something. They just want to be heard.

And if you give that five, 10 minutes to them, they will be feeling you're so overjoyed that this person has listened to me or has given their ear to me.

So I feel that if you give your hundred percent attention, even for the five minutes, that will really work. And it's learning from others. I try to observe people. It's not always me who is speaking. I try to give them a hundred percent input. So it works for me that way.

Aarushi: Broadly, what would you say is the importance of gratitude in life? Not just in your life, but generally for humans and the world.

Mizba: What I learned from this concept of gratitude is that it's not a concept. It's a way of living, I feel so. It is a way of living. If you are living with gratitude, you are actually living your life in contentment.

The yogis and the sadhus and all, I have read a lot of books about them and they speak about going to the Himalayas. And they're looking for one simple thing that is connecting yourself with the almighty. And I feel that sense of gratitude is one step.

Aarushi: In the end, I want to ask you, what do you feel has changed from the last year? From that point to this point, what has changed, how do you feel now?

Mizba: I think I'm more confident, I'm more emotionally stable. I'm ready to pick up any challenge. I'm not that fearful.

And you know, the one who always tried to stay in one particular zone and the comfort zone, I've started exploring myself. And even if I fail, I have started an attitude that even if you have failed at this, at least you're learning something.

So yeah, I think it has certain qualities which have actually helped me. I'm becoming a better version. You can see a better version, Mizba Godal. I should say that. Yeah. So it's this way.

If you'd like to share your story too, send an email to stories@gratefulness.me, and we'll schedule a call.

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