Over the past week, how many times have you launched into a rant about something that’s bothering you?
We spend a lot of time ruminating about the things in our lives that aren’t working out.
We complain, we criticize, and we obsess about all the nitty gritty details that we wish were different. We whine about our jobs; we nag our spouses, and we grumble about the behavior of our family members.
But what if there was another way?
What if we could feel happy and content regardless of whatever tornado happened to be spinning around us?
Because, you see, while we can’t always control the circumstances around us, we always have control over our reaction to those circumstances.
Today, no matter what’s going on for you right now, I’m asking you to choose to be grateful. Because no matter how bad things seem, there’s always something you can find in your life to be grateful for.
A couple of years ago, I gave a talk to a group of teens with special needs. When I asked them to share something that made them feel good about themselves, one girl bravely put up her hand and said that she was grateful that she had legs, because there are a lot of people in the world who have to be in wheelchairs.
I was almost brought to tears.
Here was a young woman with obvious developmental disabilities, who had probably been through quite a bit of difficulty in her life, and she was grateful for the fact that she had legs.
As another example, my stepfather was an amazing man who overcame enormous hardship after a gunshot wound at the age of twenty-two left him completely blind. He taught me that, when everything seemed to be going wrong, I could always be thankful for one precious thing—my sight.
Every morning, whether you’re expecting your day to be good or bad, you get to open your eyes and see the world around you. You can enjoy the exquisite beauty of a sunrise; you can see the smile on your children’s faces, and you can witness the sparkle in your spouse’s eyes. If you need to quickly grab something at the store, you can hop in your car and drive across town. When you get dressed in the morning, you can look in the mirror to figure out if your pants match your shirt.
My stepdad didn’t have any of these luxuries. He never saw the faces of his children or his wife. He had to ask us if his clothes matched. When he pulled a can of food out of the cupboard, we had to tell him what it was.
But in the twenty plus years that I knew him, he never once complained about being blind. He never said to me, “Gee, Bethany, you know, I really wish I could see.” Instead, when we went for drives in the country or walks on the beach, he would comment about how great the air smelled or the sounds of the birds in the trees. He would listen with interest as we described the sights around him.
He created an oasis of beauty in our backyard, where he maintained a large garden and two small ponds. He would pull weeds at 2:00 a.m., because it didn’t matter whether it was light out or not. Instead of complaining about his disability, he embraced life in every way that he could.
He never saw my face. But I know he saw my soul.
So the next time you open your eyes in the morning and start dreading the day ahead, take thirty seconds to be grateful for all the things you would normally take for granted. Catch yourself before you start complaining about everything that’s going wrong and allow something that you’re thankful for to come out of your mouth instead.
“Thanksgiving is good, but Thanksliving is better.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, researcher, and yoga teacher who helps people create a life they love. Check out her book, The Antidepressant Antidote, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and join her whole-self health revolution.
If you’d like tips on the topic of manifesting your dream job, plus some personal instruction from Bethany, check out her online course, Creating A Life You Love: Find Your Passion, Live Your Purpose and Create Financial Freedom.
*Photo Credit: empowernetwork