We all know that this is the time of year to focus on thankfulness and gratitude, but what if you just aren’t feeling it? In last year’s November newsletter I published a list of ideas of things you might consider expressing gratitude for, including things we take for granted, like indoor plumbing and clean drinking water. But I also suggested being grateful for things that might be considered trials or challenges, because it is through these things that we learn and grow. Even if you are feeling a bit weary of growth opportunities at the moment, changing your perspective might still help you to feel genuinely thankful.
Most of us have an idea that life should be smooth and that we are somehow entitled to happiness and clear sailing. When things don’t go as we planned or as we’d like, we tend to think of this as a bad thing. Dispelling that notion might be the first step towards finding actual happiness. Many spiritual and philosophical traditions teach that when we let go of thinking that things ought to be different than they are we can find true peace in any situation. A lot of our pain comes more from fighting reality than from the reality itself.
I have enormous respect for people like Nelson Mandela and Mohandas Gandhi who maintained a cheerful outlook even in the face of really dire circumstances. They did not let life roll over them or behave like doormats, but they did not waste time bemoaning what had already occurred either.
When I was growing up, we were not allowed to complain in our household. My father used to say it was the only “hanging offense.” I went through a phase after I moved out where I indulged in as much complaining as I could, as a kind of rebellion, but now I can really see the value of this practice. It takes you out of the present and focuses on what’s wrong, rather than on being where you are now and acknowledging all that is good so that you can use it as a base to continue to build the kind of life you want.
I try to spend most of my time focused on my blessings, and where I want to go next. This might include plans for having something turn out differently than it did the last time around, but re-hashing what has already transpired just doesn’t interest me much anymore. Sure, there are times when a little venting is a useful thing, but not when it goes on and on and on for days and weeks.
So, if you’re not feeling very thankful this year, you might consider changing your perspective. Don’t be resigned, but do manage your expectations. Also, do spend a lot of time thinking about all that is going well and makes you smile, even if it’s only the big dollop of whipped cream atop your slice of pumpkin pie.
Have a happy Thanksgiving!
The Radio Spot
The next Spiritual Integration with Life Coach Laura show will air live on Friday, November 26 (and every last Friday of the month) at 11:30 ET on internet station, Blog Talk Radio.
All shows are recorded and available on demand immediately after the live airing at the same link and on iTunes.
This month I’ll be talking with Susie Strauss, the founder and former executive director of One to One ~ Women Coaching Women. One to One is an international non-profit organization that gives 26 weeks of free life coaching to women who are emerging from challenging circumstances and who could not otherwise afford a coach. The idea for this organization came out Susie’s desire to live more fully in line with her values. In addition, the way that it evolved from a seed idea on a 3×5 card to a national organization also reflects Susie’s desire for a collaborative and co-creative process. www.onetoone.info
To listen live, click here on the day of the show (this Friday at 11:30 ET). Click the same link later to access all shows on demand.