(OCTOBER 2016)


Thanksgiving is just around the corner. The name of the holiday suggests that it is a time of giving thanks. But many people wonder “Thankful? Thankful for what?”

Sometimes it’s a struggle to feel thankful. When life’s circumstances take away peace of mind or physical health, when trapped in a situation that may or may not be of your own making, when you feel left out or rejected and overwhelmed with sadness, or when things just seem to pile up on top of each other, then gratitude can really be a challenge.

So, how can a person feel thankful when in the midst of any or all of the above? Here are some tried and true methods that people have used.

Understand that life isn’t fair.   This is a hard but essential truth. You cannot run away from difficulties. They are part of life. If you believe that life should be fair, then you will be inclined to measure all of your life by that belief. Consequently, it leads to making comparisons with other people’s life circumstances and thinking that you are not getting a fair shake. Results are that it is easy to complain and difficult to be thankful for what you do have. Accept the fact that life can be hard. Contentment and gratitude come from within; they are not dependant on circumstances. People have endured unimaginable difficulties by accepting life as it occurs for them.

You live what you focus on. What you focus on shapes your attitude and how you live your life. Focus on positive things. I know, you are probably thinking “What positives? There are none.” But there are positives in everyone’s life; you just have to look for them, even if they are small and few. Life is never totally negative or totally positive. Don’t keep a check list of the things that go wrong every day; instead be mindful of blessings that you may have started to take for granted.

Attitude of Gratitude: Choosing to focus on positives doesn’t mean that you think that your life is perfect or problems do not exist. Gratitude can co-exist with the imperfections of life by choosing to be thankful despite whatever is happening that particular day. It means you focus on potential instead of history. Life then becomes a partner with you, not a thing to control or be controlled by. Take pleasure in little things and stop waiting for bigger events to feel gratitude. Gratitude is a habit acquired by practice so start today and exercise it daily.

Reframing thinking: Changing the pattern of how you think brings about a whole different way of living life. (You will read more about this in future blogs. Watch for “Life Experience Chain” blogs). We are all faced with great opportunities disguised as impossible situations. As our perspective broadens, our ability to cope changes.

Judith S. Carscadden