It’s not always easy to be thankful. Life isn’t always pleasant and there’s far too much yucky stuff to deal with in our lives. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be thankful in spite of it.
Our family has been dealing with some “yucky stuff” lately and it’s been hard not to give up and give into the negative feelings. So, this post is a lesson to myself. I hope it helps you as well.
1) Take a deep breath. Remembering to take a step back and take a deep breath can often prevent you from doing or saying something you’ll regret later. Emotionally charged moments and gut reactions are inevitable but you get to determine the course of action you take. Having a “time out” isn’t just a good tactic for children. I’ve been known to give myself a time out when necessary as well. Taking that deep breath helps me be thankful.
2) Remember that things could be worse. In most cases, things could always be worse than they currently are. I have spent the majority of my life sitting around a dinner table hearing tales of the emergency room from my dad the doctor. “Patient of the day” stories are a tradition at my house. Trust me, things could almost certainly be worse. Realizing that a bad day could be a worse day will help you be thankful that things aren’t as bad as they may seem.
3) Change your perspective. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes isn’t just an old cliche. Changing your perspective can teach you valuable lessons. My kids constantly teach me lessons because they don’t see the world like I do. I feel stress in situations where they only feel excitement and anticipation. When I have days that are so noisy and chaotic that I want to run and hide from my own children, I remember my friends who are desperately and unsuccessfully trying to have children. Changing my perspective helps me be thankful.
4) Make a list. A time honored tradition by many is to go around the table at Thanksgiving and say something you’re thankful for. When is the last time you made a list of things you were thankful for? Being thankful shouldn’t be a once a year event. I promise you that sitting down and composing a list of things you’re grateful for will make the yucky stuff fade into the background. There are so many things to be thankful for in our lives that we tend to take for granted and just focus on the not so good things that pop up. Making a list helps us recognize our blessings and all we have to be thankful for.
5) Fake it ’til ya make it. If all else fails, just fake being happy and thankful for the yucky things. Make a decision with your mind and your feelings will follow. Don’t feel too happy today? Smile and act happy anyway and you’ll get happier. Feeling grumpy or not so loving? Do something nice for someone else and your feelings can and will change. Being thankful sometimes takes training especially when things don’t seem to be going your way. Making the choice to be thankful makes it easier to be thankful the next time the yucky stuff comes around.
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