As we move through our daily lives, we encounter many things. Most are good and some are less than.
In this hyper sensitive, instant gratification and highly critical society that we live in, our demands constantly inch towards higher expectations. I’ll admit it; I am guilty of having those expectations.
Our cellphones don’t load quickly enough, our coffees aren’t tasty enough, traffic moves too slow, “that” person isn’t doing what I feel they should be doing, and so on.
But what are we really striving for? In our uber-comfy society, we don’t have “actual” strife. I write this knowing that everyone’s lives and situations are different. Some are facing unimaginable difficulties and we all have our own shares of struggles and challenges. I’m not downplaying that we don’t have our own problems or issues, but in the big picture, think of the alternative.
When I was in my early twenties, I had the opportunity to travel the world paid for by good ‘ol Uncle Sam while serving in the U.S. Marines. I was fortunate enough to see incredible beauty and unbelievable sights, more than I could have ever imagined. I also saw what I would characterize as real strife. Witnessing firsthand, young innocent children, dirty with tattered hair, wearing torn ratty clothes and worn out flip flops. I watched those innocent kids burn their delicate little fingers while picking up the glowing hot brass just expelled from my M-16 during training missions. They would then drop them into old bags so they could then bring them home to their Dad who would in turn, melt them down and make some sort of trinket that he could hope to sell in order to buy food to put on his families table that night. Now that’s strife. Those are real challenges. That family isn’t worried about being inconvenienced by an interrupted cell signal, or the person who cut them off in traffic delaying them by seconds or having to wait a whole day because their smiley faced adorned package didn’t arrive on their front doorstep quick enough.
It’s easy to get caught up in the media hyperbole and fall into the trap that pits us against each other by only seeing the “differences” between us, something that seems to be the norm these days. And what is it getting us?
Anger, frustration, unhappiness and discontent.
Instead, I would like to propose starting a daily exercise of finding the good in things. I know, this may sound like a touchy feely kumbaya moment, but stick with me here for a minute.
Rather than only seeing the differences with the person you may not see eye to eye with, instead try to look for each of your similarities and what you have in common. Rather than focus only on that one rude driver, instead look at the countless people who are driving with kindness, respect and courtesy. Rather than grumble that the food your waiter brought is “not as tasty” as you’d like, look at the fact that someone just brought you a nicely prepared meal while you were able to relax and didn’t have to put forth the effort of making it yourself. Rather than focus that the weekend that was “too short”, focus on how much fun you had during your time off.
And be grateful for it. And say it out loud. One of the traps we all may fall into is not saying the good we may be thinking. The most important step in this mindset is actually communicating it to the person you’re grateful for.
If you only think it, you’ve only gone half way.
By telling the person who you’re interacting with the “good” in what you’re experiencing, only then does it have the most impact. I can share that what I’ve learned from my amazing wife along with some very close friends that when you focus on the good, the so called “bad” seems to fade into the shadows and actually becomes less real.
Show a gesture, no matter how insignificant; to the people you come across on a daily basis. Recognize and show your appreciation for the absolute benefit of living in such a beautiful place, or country for that matter. Say it out loud to the person who went out of their way to do something kind for you, or even for someone else.
I have seen firsthand that when you demonstrate gratitude, it becomes contagious and nudges the outcome of your day towards the better. And maybe, just maybe, if this pattern becomes more prevalent in our society, the colors we see get a little brighter, the smells a little better, the food a little bit tastier and then we truly start appreciating on a daily basis all the good that we have in our lives.
It’s such a simple exercise with the positive effects so vast that it’s hard to quantify.
But think about it. What do you have to lose?
Oh, and thank you for taking the time to read this.