Simply saying thank you for what we have instead of being ungrateful for what we don’t, is oftentimes the difference between finding out we are very satisfied or very unsatisfied with our lives. Both cycles are easy to get into. And both offer equal amounts of inertia toward their respective ends.
There are many factors that contribute to why we would be unthankful for any given situation. But rather than note those, why not try and establish a positive way to assess them? Even in looking at the less-than-positive items in our lives, we are still able to see them from a place of positivity – or at least progress. In either case, we will find ourselves with the opportunity to appreciate the good fortune that our lives have the capacity to generate – even if it doesn’t generate it quite yet.
But the important thing is to make the conscious effort to analyze these centers within ourselves. Forgetting to take the time to appreciate the richness that exists in our lives is one way that we lose sight of just how great things are – or more importantly, how they could always be much worse.
Just like having a negative cycle of doubt, hate, depression, disorder and anxiety can feel like a cage from which it is impossible to escape, the extent of this cycle on the positive end is equally intense – liberating us with the same magnitude as it would at weighing us down. And when we feel continually tired, overreactive or sad, we generally see things in a negative light.
While on the road, we can look at our trip for all the confusion, frustration and wasted time that we spent trying to navigate the trail. Travel always includes circumstances that have this effect. On the other hand, there are also many times that we have the opportunity to be awed by a beautiful vista or to experience the exhilaration of something new. And the latter normally outnumbers the prior.
The point is that if we look for the negative, the negative will appear more acute than the positive. But there is one stark difference in the way that we react to these two polar opposites.
When focusing on the negative outcomes of our challenges, we almost always take on the perspective of someone who doesn’t deserve it. We often ask ourselves, “why did this happen to me?” as if we are somehow more deserving than someone else in the same circumstances to receive a more positive result. This is a common reaction, but it’s not a place of humility. It is a place we go to when we are defeated and our ego takes over in order to protect our pride.
So, armed with this knowledge, we can easily head this negative cycle off at the pass. Viewing the positive outcomes intrinsic to every possible situation would be a good place to start. Being thankful for what you have is a great finisher. And when we find ourselves being thankful, even when the situation would strike most people as quite negative, that is when we know we have achieved humility.
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My new book, Insights from the Pavement, is a collection of 101 Travel Oms just like this one. Look for it to be released soon.
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