I wondered what I’d talk about today…the topic wasn’t just popping up. Then I connected with a couple of people I know and heard their ongoing stories, and immediately felt so incredibly grateful for my life and knew what I wanted to write about.
It’s so easy to get mired in what’s not working and feel frustrated, like life isn’t fair; sometimes it can be a struggle to see the silver lining or focus on what is working. Then we hear a story, or multiple stories, about what someone else is going through and that puts our own experiences into perspective.
There’s a saying that might seem trite…”There’s always someone who has it rougher than you,” or similar. It can be easy so respond with, “Ya, well my issue is pretty significant/challenging/frustrating (choose your ending).”
But this is true. We can develop a very narrow view of life and that lets us get stuck in the ‘not working’ vs the ‘working’. It can be hard sometimes to really feel grateful.
What about this…?
“What could be so much worse than this?” Not that we want to focus on all of the horrible potential ‘what ifs’, but remind ourselves of what could be, therefore how fortunate we really are.
One simple example comes to mind from years back. I had for many years paid my mortgage with autopay. One month, after a glitch in the bank system, my autopay didn’t go through. I wasn’t aware of this, because it was always paid on the same date, and I didn’t think about it. After the early default email I received, which I hadn’t yet opened, not figuring it was anything time sensitive, I received another message stating that I had just 2 or 3 days to pay my mortgage or I’d be in default. It took me a day to reach a real person at the lender’s office to explain my situation, and there wasn’t time to send a check, and for some reason they said even a direct draft would likely be a day too late.
I was definitely stressed about the situation, especially that they didn’t seem to want to work with me in spite of the fact that I’d never had a late payment. Ultimately it was resolved and I was able to avoid default and resume my autopay.
I definitely had some moments of feeling like things weren’t fair and worry that my credit would be ruined and that I’d have to pay exorbitant fees to correct everything. It could have gone much worse, and I was thankful for the resolution, but I was definitely stuck in the ‘woe is me’ place for a while.
Following this idea of “What could be worse?” in this scenario, I could have answered myself with, “I could be homeless.” Or, “I could have had my account information stolen and my account emptied.” Not to be doomsday about it, but it really could have been much worse.
When we compare ourselves with others who are really struggling, or some “worse (not worst) case scenarios” we can readjust our viewpoint and shift toward feeling grateful for what we do have, what is going right, what makes life more enjoyable, easier, safer, etc.
Today when I heard about others’ experiences of one significant challenging thing after another it became easy for me to look at my life and feel so grateful. Everything I’ve been focused on that I don’t like or am concerned about became so small in the big picture, and that allowed my body to relax. I was able to focus easily on all of the things going well in my life, all that I’m so fortunate to have and experience.
This doesn’t mean that I haven’t experienced challenges, loss, roadblocks and disappointments, or that everything comes easily and never disappoints. It’s just a matter of perspective.
It feels so much better to sit in a place of gratitude. Sometimes that’s difficult to grasp, to really feel, but it’s true that there’s usually a silver lining to things and that it truly could be worse.
Self talk is so key. So the next time I find myself saying, “This isn’t working…it’s so frustrating,” or, “Why is this happening?” I’ll try to respond to myself with, “Ah, but what IS working, and how does that feel?” and, “It could be worse; thankfully it’s not (x). I do have (y).”
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