It is such a shame that we generally tend to default into pessimistic attitudes about our current situations. It is so easy to constantly fret over past decisions, become consumed by anxiety about how we will complete our daily to-do lists, and relentlessly worry about what the future holds. Maybe that is how we have trained ourselves to think. Or maybe we have learned to think and feel this way because we are consistently bombarded by social media with pictures and captions of how wonderful everyone else’s lives are, so we feel we must keep up with the Jones’. But, what if we could change that. What if instead of playing these hateful, exhausting games with ourselves, we learn to be happy with what we do have, and stop searching for what we are missing. Honestly, it is as simple as that.
Worry, fear, anxiety, hurt, anger, dread. For some reason or another, these are all things our brains love to zero in on. Once you start focusing on one of these feelings, it suddenly becomes an avalanche of negative emotions that poison every cell of our being. Nothing can make you sicker faster than a big ol’ bout of anxiety – just ask anyone who has ever suffered from it. Not only does it effect you mentally, but it causes your entire body to act out against you and cause you pain and suffering. Just think of how badly your shoulders hurt after a day of sorrowful news. Or that feeling of being punched in the gut when you hear something that is heart-wrenching. Think of that term alone -“heart wrenching”. We experience these feelings to our very core, and while they are an unavoidable, and necessary part of our lives, we have to learn to overcome them and find our happy place. The best way to do this is to focus on what you have to be grateful for.
No matter how bad your situation ever becomes, there will ALWAYS be something in your life that you can be grateful for. Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have a smart phone or computer that you are currently reading this blog post with? Do you have a job that supplies you a consistent income? Do you have friends and family that love and support you? Do you have a favorite pet that comforts you at night? Were you able to feed yourself today? Do you have food in your cupboards for tomorrow? Has anyone given you a hug or a reassuring smile lately? Have you been able to step outside and marvel at the beauty that nature provides you? Are you breathing? Do you have a heartbeat? Did you wake up this morning? The list can go on and on.
Ever since I found out I was allergic to corn and had to completely change every single aspect of my life, I have found that I have to consciously make an effort to overcome the massive feeling of loss of my former life, and sometimes my sanity, and focus on the things that I do have. There was one particular evening that I found myself sobbing in the bathroom of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse after having an amazing, specially prepared for me corn-free meal, because everyone at the table ordered dessert and there wasn’t a single thing that I could touch. This was after having food poisoning and having not eating for a straight 30 hours, mind you. I was a little delirious. A sweet older black woman heard me crying and asked me to tell her what was wrong… so I did, and felt incredibly childish as the words were coming out of my mouth. She threw her arms around me, and held me as she asked if there were foods that I could enjoy still. When I told her yes, there were some things still, she said “well, focus on those things that you can have and let yourself indulge in those things whenever you want!”.
She was an angel sent to me at the exact moment that I needed it. Her words were exactly what I needed to hear. And although I had no idea who she was, and did not catch her name, she made a huge impression on the way that I think and feel about life now. She was right. It is as simple as that. Focus on what you have and forget about what you have lost or can not reach.
- Ok, so I can’t go to a restaurant and have anything I desire, but I can have something, and I can still enjoy my outings with friends and family.
- I can’t quickly run through a grocery store and grab quick and easy pre-packaged food off of the shelf for a simple throw together dinner, but I can find foods that work for me, and I have food in my cupboards. This girl is not going to starve. Nor will I be slowly poisoned by all of the preservatives in said pre-packaged food.
- I can no longer order takeout pizza or Chinese food, but I can make these things at home if I so desire, and it is healthier for my body to boot.
- I can never order popcorn at a movie theater again, or eat any of the candy for that matter, but I can still enjoy movies with my husband, family, and friends, and I can bring my own snacks if I so choose.
I have a roof over my head. I have family and friends that love and support me. I have a loving husband, and a wonderful little toddler that I love to the moon and back. I have figured out what was causing my health problems. I have the best dog a girl could ever ask for. I never go hungry. The list goes on, and on, and on. We just have to remind ourselves when we feel those worries sneaking into our thoughts that we still have things to be thankful for, and will undoubtedly find more.
Disclaimer: I do not intend for this blog post to make light of depression and anxiety. Having suffered from both at various times in my life, I absolutely realize the depth of these two “disorders” and know just how hard they can be to overcome. My intention for this particular post is to remind us all to try and change our daily pattern of thinking to that of gratitude.