“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, never have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
I had a very frustrating text conversation with a friend this fall when I told her about the name of my blog, Good Things Are Gonna Come. I was so excited to share that I finally found a name that spoke to me and my response from her was, “But good things are here right now.”
I got upset when I read that text and thought, “OMG, can’t you just be happy for me and understand that my heart is still healing, sure there are things that don’t TOTALLY suck right now, but I’m still recovering from so much change in my life and in my mind, to keep me pressing forward, I need to believe that it’s not all going to continue to be hard and “good things ARE gonna come!”
When you are depressed and feeling like you want to just crawl in a hole, you don’t want to hear someone say, “Just be thankful for what you DO have, you have a roof over your head, you have a job, you have XYZ.”
That’s not always what you want to hear, in those moments you probably want to scream in their face and tell them to shut up!
After I let the frustration and anger marinate from my friend telling me “good things are here now”, the reality sunk in, she was right, there is ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS something to be thankful for and with Thanksgiving this week, it’s a good time to focus on what those things are for you.
Not saying you should only try to find gratitude this week, but maybe the spirit of the holiday can help kick it off.
Grateful people are all around happier people. They have better emotional health, they are more optimistic, have better relationships, higher self-esteem and longer lifespans.
But it can be hard to be grateful when it feels like life is spitting tennis balls at your head like one of the machines they use in training. If you are in the thick of a shit storm right now and life is piling on stressors, how do you do it?
How do you step away from your sadness/frustration/stress for two seconds and take the time to say out loud what you are thankful for in that moment? Well, you just do it!
I cannot tell you what will work for you. What I can do is give you a list and maybe you can pick and choose what “might” help you.
But more than anything, maybe the list will at least get you thinking and you will find your own way to take the time to find something to be grateful for, not just this week because it’s Thanksgiving, but every week that you are living and breathing.
- Make a list. Seems simple enough right? I’ve done this many different ways. I’ve sat at my desk with a journal and listed things like: my health, the roof over my head, my car, pizza. I have opened up the notes app in my phone after I was crying because a jerk on a bike yelled at me when I didn’t get out of his way on a trail when I was running because I didn’t hear him behind me. Those gratitude’s might have been more along the lines of: I’m grateful I had the strength to not pick up a rock and throw it at his helmet! In all seriousness, lists can certainly help by letting you visually see what you truly are grateful for.
- Say something [actually say it out loud] that you are grateful for in that exact moment. If making a whole list is too daunting just say one thing in the moment when you feel stress or sadness creeping in. Today I said out loud, “I am so grateful for socks!” It is super cold outside as I’m typing this blog and my toesies are chilly, so I honestly am grateful I have clean socks to put on to keep me warm because not everyone has that.
- Gratitude Meditation: I can’t do this yet so I’m skipping the details…but hey, it works for some people and it might work for you. There are sooo many ways to meditate out there but I don’t have any tips yet so you’ll have to Google it! If you figure it how to successfully do it without having songs creep into your head every 15 seconds, please let me know!
- Surround yourself with positive people. When you are trying to be positive and have more gratitude, there is nothing worse than Negative Nancy’s to pull you down with them. With the holidays this can be hard because they cause stress for a lot of people. If you are with your family this holiday (personally I think that is something to be thankful for because many people don’t have that) but it’s getting too stressful, give yourself grace to step away and take some “you” time. In that quiet time you have given yourself, try #2 above.
- In one of my Instagram posts I talked about “Doing good to feel good”. Studies show that volunteering has so many positive benefits, one of those being gratitude. I used to manage 1400 volunteers and could never get over how amazing these people were who gave so much of their free time to help a cause they were passionate about. It certainly is beneficial for the organization, but there is a selfish component to it, a good selfish, it also makes them feel good.
- I LOVE IT! I know it sounds a little strange, but hear me out. I was having lunch with a friend before my marathon, filling her in on what was going on with my life, when she told me about hearing Kyle Cease give a presentation at a conference on falling in love with your fears. She went on to tell me that he wrote a book, “I Hope I Screw This Up: How Falling In Love with Your Fears Can Change the World.” He encourages you in life to say out loud “I LOVE IT”, even in those challenging moments. She posted on my Facebook page a few days before my marathon, “Remember with you hit “the wall” keep saying “I LOVE IT!” So maybe when you spill your coffee today, are running late for a meeting, or you are crying, try to muster up those words “I LOVE IT” and see how you feel.
- Turn a negative experience into a lesson. This is similar to #6. I was reading a blog from someone I follow online and she was writing about her recent move to Bali with her partner, excited for their new life and then just a few weeks there, the cabin they were staying in was robbed. They lost $3000, a lap top and clothes. They felt violated, broke, and sad. She went on to say it was a learning experience for them and they asked themselves:
- What is the blessing in this?
- Do we choose to focus on this or what else positive is going on with our lives?
- What did we learn from this?
She goes on to talk about the responsibility they were taking in the situation, what they could have done different so it didn’t happen again. I feel like this is tied to #6, things happen in life to teach us, to help us grow, to make us better, but sometimes those things aren’t always happy moments like getting the diploma in your hand as you walk across stage, it’s getting robbed and trying to dig deep to find what things you are still grateful for in that moment.
My list could go on and on, some of these might peak your interest and you will try them, but then again, maybe they will just get your thinking about something else that could work for you and help you find a little gratitude today.
The title of my blog is not to say there aren’t things in your life right now that you shouldn’t be thankful for. The point of the title is that I get it, you are going through some pretty serious shit.
Whether that is a divorce or breakup, a loss of a pet, you lost your job, or maybe it really is just holiday stress, whatever it might be…you are here today reading this because you want some hope, you want some connection, you want to feel a tiny bit better today and to know that you aren’t alone in this big scary world and there are so many of us out there going through it with you.
So today, I’m not going to tell you Good Things Are Right Here NOW…because that is not what you need to hear. However, I still want to challenge you today. Go ahead and list the 5, 10, or 48 things right now that you are upset with and that are hurting your heart or stressing you out and making you want to stay in bed or cry.
Let yourself cry, let yourself stay in bed today if you need that. But at the end of today, go outside and look at the sunset or wait until it’s dark and look at the stars, stand in the rain, bend down and touch your toes, or smile and give your full attention to your child as they tell you about their day at school.
Give thanks that your eyes can see that beautiful sunset or stars, be grateful you can smell the rain, smile because you are still flexible enough to touch those toes, or be so amazed that you created that human that is talking to you. Whatever it is, even small, I challenge you to find something today that you really are grateful for.
Good things ARE gonna come, but my friend was right, they are here now too, you just might have to push yourself a little more during the hard times to recognize them and appreciate them. I wish you peace and happiness and gratitude this week. Happy Thanksgiving!
Remember, You Got This!