At the risk of portraying myself as a complete and utterly shallow tool (yeah, that ship has probably already sailed… *sigh*), I’ll just go ahead and admit it, I’m prone to letting the most ridiculous, meaningless things ruin my day. Someone cuts me off in traffic, my computer doesn’t work right, someone in customer service is rude to me, a line is insanely longer than it should be (why are all these idiots standing in THIS line RIGHT NOW? “For the same reason you are, honey,” says my infinitely more patient wife), Jason’s Deli stops giving away two kids meals with every purchase on kid’s night (hey, when you have four kids you gotta cut corners where you can!), the Vols lose multiple winnable games to teams with markedly inferior talent (and yet, Butch Jones still has a job!?!?), some would-be writing critic criticizes me for writing ridiculously long, possibly even ‘run-on’ (gasp!) sentences, and a host of other admittedly negative but otherwise relatively meaningless events that should be mere blips on our radars of life yet all have the potential to get me down, to dampen my day, my week, my month (Heck, Tennessee football has been spoiling my Falls for several years now!).
In my meager defense, I feel guilty when I let this happen, but I know I’m not the only one. We all have things that bother us disproportionately to how it actually affects our lives. During these times, when maybe we have a hard time putting things in perspective, it helps to cultivate a spirit of that attribute we’re about to celebrate over turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce (better have real cranberries or it might ruin my… OK STOP IT!)… thankfulness! So today, for Thanksgiving month, I’d like to share a few ways we can all remind ourselves to maintain a spirit of thankfulness, no matter what life brings.
Count your blessings
It’s not just an old hymn, it’s a mentality that fosters an attitude of gratitude. No matter where we are in life or how badly things are going, we have some blessings to count – so count them! Dwell on those, and we’ll be less likely to sink into the mental mire of our present troubles. This goes for the petty stuff and the serious stuff too.
Focus on the positive
It may be a trite phrase, but try to be a ‘glass half full’ kind of person. If there are any positives to take from a given situation (of course, sometimes there won’t be), try to focus on those and minimize the negative. For example, for you Tennessee Vol fans, the next loss – and it’s coming soon – will be frustrating as usual but could also finally spark the coaching change that could get the team where it needs to be. Hey, whatever works!
Practice thankfulness, even if you’re not feeling it
If you’re in a restaurant and a server brings you something, say ‘thank you.’ If someone does something for you, thank them. Make it a regular practice to send warm thank you notes when appropriate. Let the people in your life, family, friends, co-workers, know how much and why you appreciate them. Even if you aren’t ‘feeling it’ at the time, deliberately and outwardly practicing thankfulness will provoke a positive reaction from those around you which will, in turn, build your own spirits.
It could always be worse
Got a flat tire? Your engine could have been shot. Got a cold? You could have the flu, or worse. Having a hard time walking? You could be unable to walk at all. You get the picture… regardless of what happens to us in life, someone will almost always have it worse, and our situation could always be worse than it is. Be THANKFUL it’s not.
Remember that God is good, that He loves you, and made you in His image
This life is just a blip, a tiny vapor in light of eternity. Knowing God through His son Jesus, knowing we can spend eternity with Him, quickly and definitively puts the temporary, temporal troubles of this world into stark perspective.
Granted, this piece focused on the ‘stupid stuff’ life brings to trip us up, but since we’re human we will all suffer real pain, real loss, and real challenges in this life, and these points apply to those as well, hard as they may be. Having a spirit of gratitude, of thankfulness, in our lives can go a long way toward helping us deal with the trials and tribulations that life constantly brings. So, while you gather ‘round that turkey table in a few days and eat more than you can handle, let’s remember to remember all the things we have to be thankful for!
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