During a recent conversation with my very best friend, I mentioned that I have a practice of reframing those things which might originally present as problems, hassles, and headaches as gratitude prompts. I say “practice” because a 100% success rate remains a goal–I’m not Gandhi over here, just Annie. There are plenty of times where I neglect to do this, and feel quite content to complain about the lack of water pressure in my shower, thank you very much. But fundamentally, I do believe that events, issues, and challenges contain hidden gold, which it is our responsibility to mine.
When I get a $500 bill in the mail to renew my car’s licensing, I have the choice to either view that bill as a affront to my bank account, or to view it as the price of being privileged enough to own a car that requires licensing. I have the opportunity to actually hold that bill as a sign of my prosperity and an invitation to express gratitude for my car. Either way, I’m responsible to pay the bill. But one way makes me feel angry and resentful about doing it, and one makes me feel fortunate.
When it’s a million o’clock and I’ve been on my feet with a client all day, tending to administrative tasks either feels like torture, or like the byproduct of owning and operating a flourishing business that I’m obsessed about. Either way, the emails still have to get sent and the receipts tallied. But one mindset makes me feel as though I’m negatively drained by my business, and one way makes me remember how incredible it is that I have the business of my dreams, how I yearned for those tedious tasks when I was just starting out.
David occasionally bemoans his having to take the garbage out for trash pick up, or having to do the dishes every night. And since I’m the most annoying, I am always reminding him that the very things he’s complaining about are indicators of his great, good fortune. Having dishes to wash means you have dishes, period. Washing them means you have a deep sink, a shiny faucet, and a magical machine that actually washes your dishes for you! Having garbage to take out means you have a home that you maintain.
Even my mom, whose health represents the greatest temptation for me to sink into negativity, seems, more and more, to be an invitation for gratitude than it is about sorrow and loss.
Perspective is the ultimate determinant. If we look for the blessings, we tend to find them. If we look for the unfairness, the annoyance, and the frustration, we tend to find those things, too.
Mostly, I have to believe that anyone who has less than we have would view what we classify as “problems” to be…well, not. They would happily accept the side of burnt toast because they would immediately recognize its being linked to the gorgeous, plenteous entree.
So that’s where I’m at this week–which happens to be Thanksgiving week in the States. Grateful for my problems. Grateful for the unappealing jobs. Grateful for the dirty dishes that need cleaning and the garbage that needs taking out and the car license that needs renewing. Grateful for my mom who is here, who has vitality of spirit despite physical limitation. Grateful for the upkeep of what is, in my estimation, a ridiculously fortunate, happy life.