You’re rushing out the door to work because you’re late for work. You swerve out of the driveway and push the gas pedal down so you can make that dreaded stoplight. And just as you swerve into the fast lane, somebody cuts you off, causing you to miss the light. Now you’re really late for work.
I get it. Some days, you just want to hate the world and everyone in it. I have those days, too. It’s so much easier to see the glass as half empty than full, and it’s sure as heck a lot more enjoyable to pinpoint the qualities you dislike in a person than point out everything you love.
But after a while, this becomes draining on you. Your friends know you as the person who bitches about everything and your coworkers are afraid to come ask you a question. So you realize it’s time to make a change. You set out to be more of an optimist and learn to be more grateful for the things in your life.
I came to this realization a couple of years ago. In some respects, I’m still on the journey to acceptance. Many days, I feel like it’ll be a lifelong struggle. We live in a world where it’s more of a social norm to tell someone to go to hell because they budged in line at Starbucks than to call up long-lost friends and tell them how much you miss them and wish to catch up.
When I started to think long and hard about how I could consciously change my habits and evaluate my life more positively, I came to three realizations.
It’s not them, it’s me
Yes, you read that right. Most often than not, we get angry about a situation because of our own fault, not someone else’s. While you might be quick to flash a certain finger to the driver who cut you off in traffic, it’s probably more your fault that you left the house 10 minutes late. When I started to think about problems from their origins rather than their endings, I found myself at fault nine times out of 10.
It takes energy to be more grateful
It’s crazy to type a statement like that and even more crazy to say it out loud. In the first few weeks of trying to be more positive and grateful for the people I interact with, I found that, like anything else, if I didn’t work at it and invest a decent amount of time each day into recognizing the good things, I slipped back into my old habits. So I started making a list at the end of the day and re-reading it when I got up the next day. I still do that each day. Slowly but surely, it was easier to find the happiness in the little things and the good in people.
Most people have good intentions
One of the biggest things I worked on in the first year was recognizing the good in people and their intentions. In the past, I was so, so quick to completely write off someone based on a single decision he/she made. But when I looked more objectively at situations and conversations, it’s easy to see that emotions get heated in many situations and I usually set people off long before the situation at hand. My resolution? Take more time to think before I speak, send an email, or respond to a text message. And during that time, I’d find a few things I liked about the person. You probably think I’m crazy, but it feels so good and helps to counteract a lot of negative emotions.
What does all of this mean? I’m not sure, to be honest. I just wanted to share part of this journey with you. I’m far from finding the finish line but I’m actually enjoying the time it takes to find it. Because when I look around, I see there a lot more people cheering for me and my success than I originally saw.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on gratefulness. Is it something you’re working on in your life, too? Let me know in the comments below.