This time of year isn’t all stockings and mistletoe for everyone. The Christmas season can be like a magnifying glass focusing itself on your life. It can bring into focus all that is good with your life and make you more grateful for it or it can focus on what is currently making you miserable. You decide. If this is the time of year that brings all that is lacking in your life into a crystal clarity that is hard to escape, give yourself an hour for an exercise that just might change it’s focus.
If you have been concentrating on the negative aspects of life, you’re not a sucking pit of depression. You’re normal. Peter McWilliams, the author of Life 101, had this to say about gratitude:
“It’s part of human behavior to take good things for granted. It’s biological, actually. A part of our brain filters out whatever isn’t hurtful, fearful, or physically moving. This filtering helped our forebears separate the beasts from he rocks and trees.
Today, this same device starts filtering out all the good things we have, almost as soon as we get them. After a week or month or year with something that initially was wonderful, we have grown accustomed to it. We take it for granted.”
To put the focus of your life back on the good things, give yourself a hour of uninterrupted time and a stack of paper. Just start writing all the things that are good in your life. If you can’t think of anything, here is a list to jog your memory:
- Are you homeless? Then be grateful for the roof over your head, no matter how expensive it may be.
- List every item that you own from the furniture right down to the paper in front of you. That alone would probably take you an hour.
- Get out your address book (or your cell phone) and write down every person in there. If you have called them within the last couple of months, count them as a friend. Even if they hung up on you.
- What about your education? Did you finish grade school? Abraham Lincoln didn’t, so that gives you a leg up. What about junior high, high school or even college? Don’t forget to put the most important lessons from the School of Hard Knocks, too.
- Did you ever fall in love? It doesn’t matter if it was unrequited. Just being in love is blessing enough sometimes. Did anyone ever fall in love with you? It doesn’t matter that you didn’t have an ounce of attraction for them. Sometimes just being loved is enough.
- What about your past? What memories would you go back in time and film if you could? You can’t do that, but you can relive them here on paper.
- What about your family? What was the best thing that each of your family members did for you? They might have been mean or horrible every other day of their lives, but there must have been one shining day when each of them was good to you. There is no wholly good or wholly bad person. Everyone has a moment of grace within them.
This is just a starting place for you. If you have let the holidays bring you down instead of lift you up, take the time to sit down and write out all the good things in your life. There are more than you can write down in an hour’s time. Even if you are having a sad holiday, you can turn it into a beautiful sadness. You just have to be willing to be grateful.