Before I started the Thrive Challenge, my life seemed to have something missing. I struggled with depression, and it was really bad at the beginning of this year. I was homeless and was close to losing my job.
“It dawned on me that I wanted to live a better life.”
Being a single father, I’ve always tried to do things on my own. But I just turned 28 years old, and it dawned on me that I wanted to live a better life for my 7-year-old son, for my family. I started to pursue a better lifestyle, to make the right decisions for my mental and physical health. I started to see a therapist and a regular doctor. Then I received an email about Thrive, saying it was available to all Walmart employees as a way to better yourself through small Better Choices. I’m all about self-improvement, so I gave it a shot.
“I have a lot to be thankful for.”
Thrive has opened my eyes to a lot of ways to show gratitude. Every day I wake up and I get to choose, “Is this day going to be a good day or not?” When I brush my teeth, I say three things I’m grateful for. I call a family member at least once a week and talk to them. I also keep a journal and write things about gratitude. They’re small things, but I think it all adds up to you becoming a better person.
I help other people out, too. I volunteered for the Red Cross. I see it as a way to show gratitude for the blessings I received over the past year when I was battling homelessness and depression. I have a vehicle now, I have a roof over my head. I have a lot to be thankful for, so I try to give back as much as I can — simple, small acts of kindness when nobody’s watching. I bought a kid McDonald’s the other day. He was with his grandmother and I just wanted to help them out. I know what it’s like. A small act like that can really affect somebody.
“I find more joy in the little things that I was overlooking before.”
My son and I have a closer relationship now. We do more things together: He’s learned how to play basketball with me, I throw the football with him. I find more joy in the little things that I was overlooking before. I didn’t realize the importance of going to the park and feeding some ducks, or just having a moment where we’re both laughing about something. Being in the present instead of being in my head — I appreciate that a lot more than I used to.
“It takes one brick at a time to make a house.”
Since beginning the Challenge, I’ve spread the word to all my family members. A lot of people don’t have any guidance, they don’t even know there’s a different way of life than the one they’re in. Thrive gives people hope, and I like that. It gave me little things I could do to build a better life — it takes one brick at a time to make a house. I’m very excited to see where my life can go. At 28 years old, my life is just beginning.
—Aaron Schneider, Desoto, TX; $3K Winner