THAT’S LIFE: Putting on thankful spirit in life’s downturns

Saturday November 25 2017

There are very few people who can outdo my

There are very few people who can outdo my friend Lyn in hosting a thanksgiving dinner. PHOTO | FILE 

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melodie Beatty

There are very few people who can outdo my friend Lyn in hosting a thanksgiving dinner.

We were bang in the middle of electioneering when she sent out invitations a couple of weeks ago. Most of us felt fractured  by what was happening in the country.

For some, it had been a difficult year financially. For others, they had endured emotional lows and even life threatening illness.

It was to this slightly miserable group that her invite came. Was there anything to be thankful for when even we as friends were politically divided? Could we put our differences aside and join hands on the thanksgiving table?

Years of friendship helped to ease the unease and we had a roaring evening that extended into the wee hours of the morning.

What cured us? I believe it had something to do with the simple act of looking beyond our current difficulties and putting on a thankful spirit.

Turns out that what you wear on the outside is just as important as what you wear on the inside. Gratitude is not only something that you are, it is a garment you choose to put on.

When I looked across the table, I was thankful for this motley crew of women who had witnessed my life.

Women who stood with me through the highs and lows. They had been present at weddings, funerals and diverse celebrations.

Yet they had also dropped by unannounced for a cup of tea or to bring over a vegetable ciondo from the market. Before I paint a rosy picture of female bonding, let me add that we had had our share of misunderstandings and fights.

There were seasons some chose to leave the group. Fortunately, like family, the ties that bound us always drew us back to each other. And for that, I could be thankful. Yes it had been a difficult year for almost all of us. Yet here we were. Alive. Healthy. Together. Grateful. Isn’t that what a thanksgiving dinner is all about?

In a similar vein, the person who is always finding fault, rarely finds anything else. Yet it’s so easy to become that person. Sadly, there is no cautioning road sign that warns you that you are headed into that sour faced Grinch. John Mason wrote, “A complaining spirit is first a caller, then a guest and finally a Master.”

Like most vices. You know you are a complainer when nothing or no-one is good enough. When the salad is too soggy. When you think your family is dysfunctional. When your boss is always too difficult.

When people begin to avoid being around you.

Curing a complaining spirit begins by acknowledging it. Second, place a guard over your mind to “catch” complaints or negative thoughts. Your sentry should be able to say, “you can not go in.”

Third, take back your power. Amy Morin writes in 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, “If you’ve spent most of your life feeling like a victim of your circumstances, it takes hard work to recognise that you have the power to choose your own path in life.

The first step is to develop self-awareness by identifying when you blame external circumstances and other people for how you think, feel, and behave. Each second you spend commiserating with co-workers about how unfair your boss is, you are giving your boss more power.

Every time you tell your friends how controlling your mother-in-law is, you give her a little more power over you. Resolve to stop giving people your time and energy if you don’t want them to play a big role in your life.”

Finally, aim to be on the lookout for the good in a situation or a person. When you train your mind to see what’s positive, something will shift.

It will be your perspective. After-all, you can not see the sunrise if you are always looking west.