Bad stuff happens to good people. It seems to me people love to rehearse negatives, almost gloating about how bad they have it. It’s a ‘Let me trump your bad story so I get your sympathy’ kind of thing. And the more we tell it, the more we need to embellish it. Then we wonder why more of the bad seems to come our way. We are focusing on the bad. Where your attention goes, your life goes.
“Life happens” is the saying. We all have experienced times when we just did not feel very joyful and it seemed as though our world was collapsing around us. I know I have. We all have endured times when life just seemed to be isolating us out for yet another challenge. So when we are in the middle of the bad stuff, how do we break free of the cycle and get on top of it?
When we compare ourselves to all those who are better off than us, we can be resentful of what appears to be a “luxurious life.” But when we compare ourselves to the majority of the world population, we are doing really well. I have a roof over my head, food in my fridge and a stove to cook it on. I had a bed to sleep in with warm blankets and a hot shower when I awoke. I have electricity and a car that starts. My eyesight is still good and I have my hearing. I have no pain and I have clothes to wear. When I stop and see the sky filled with fluffy white clouds I can be grateful there are no hurricanes or fires nearby.
But, what if you really do have serious things happening, such as the imminent death of your life partner? Of course you don’t feel thankful at that moment. What if you’re going through a hard time and are justified in the numbness of self pity? My friend teaches me that even in the greatest pain there are seeds of gratitude. She keeps finding more and more blessings in the middle of tragic circumstances. The nurses are so kind. The doctor has found a new source of pain relief. The lifting chair makes it so much easier. The straw means he still can take nourishment. The bed can be made low to the floor so if her husband falls out he doesn’t hurt himself so badly. Now that he has lost his eyesight, he isn’t so aggressive. On and on, she finds the good and teaches me how to fill my cup with goodness so that, although she walks through the valley of the shadow of death, she says, “You, oh God, are still with me. I really am blessed because I am not alone”.
By finding just the smallest something to be grateful for, I start the process of lifting the soul. Then I can start searching diligently for the smallest good thing in the bad. Find the treasure, the lesson in the bad, and, once again, the bad has turned into a blessing — a teacher for our character. Personally, I find such joy in appreciating, especially since “like attracts like.” When our focus is “Feeling Thankful” our attitudes can bring a smile to our face and it is a great way to invite more situations and experiences for which to feel thankful.
The best ever and most valuable way I know to transform how you’re feeling about yourself and your situation is to get out of yourself. Get over your own problems and concerns by focusing on others. Find someone who is worse off than you and do something for them. I guarantee you will feel better after enriching another human being.
My granddaughter and I volunteered at the soup kitchen and discovered it wasn’t soup, but curried chicken and rice with fresh fruit salad! We were thrilled at the quality of care these people were getting. Go help an invalid do their grocery shopping, or just buy a bag of groceries and take it to a young mum in need. Go to an old folks home and ask who doesn’t have any visitors and adopt them as a grandparent. Clean out your wardrobe and donate some of your unwanted clothes. Go to the cancer ward and cheer up the lonely and depressed. Take a child to the football match, or perhaps mow your neighbour’s lawn. Pay for the coffee of the person behind you in the line. As you to step out of yourself for others, your perception of life changes.
I heard someone say once to a group, “Write your problem on a piece of paper. Then take a different piece of paper. The problem you have drawn out now will be your problem.” After reading the new problem very few people wanted to keep it. You’ll be amazed how much your “problems” have changed when you’re finished focusing on others instead of yourself. Because joy, fulfillment, happiness, gratitude, and success comes from deep down inside of you. These things come from your mindset.
Happiness and gratitude always comes from the lens you view yourself through. Your world will tip right side up when you live in gratitude and give yourself away. You can’t give a rose without the scent staying on your own hand.