In the middle of the storm, it might be challenging to identify your blessings. Those people and things that you should be grateful for may have slipped your mind.
Some of us have sustained hardship for years, and it seems the hits keep coming. In the hard times, we tend to look inward. We worry about ourselves and wonder how we will weather the storm. Life seems unfair.
While riding my Roller Coaster From Hell, I began to discount my blessings. Little by little, year after year, people and things that I once treasured seemed far away. Before long, I was living in Victimland. I used to say out loud (cringe) that I had been handed a life sentence.
In that state of mind is where the Beast does his best work. When you don’t see much light, he brings more darkness. The Beast wants you to believe God has abandoned you and that you have little for which to be grateful.
If you are finding it hard to see the blessings during the flood you are wading through, use these strategies to shift your mindset from cursed to blessed.
1. Stop. Look. Listen. Anytime you are feeling less than blessed, stop, look, and listen for blessings. Our garbage gets picked up on Tuesdays. Three separate trucks pick up different types of refuse. We live on a corner, so throughout the day, we cannot escape the noise on ours and several nearby streets. On that day of the week, I avoid doing any video messages or podcasting since it seems the noise goes on all day. Truthfully, sometimes I feel a bit annoyed. When COVID-19 hit, and the world stood still, I began to feel differently about garbage day. The once-irritating sounds are now a reminder of what is still right with the world. No matter where you are in any given moment, you can find something that should make you feel grateful, perhaps even something that was once an irritation or an inconvenience.
2. Shift Your Focus. As I did with something simple like trash pickup, you can shift your focus away from negativity, fear, and uncertainty, to things that help keep hope alive. Since you get to decide what you think about, begin to meditate on the good.
3. Stop Comparing. Comparison can be a tough habit to break, and one I have struggled with for years. (My Beast knows it and is not about to let me forget it). It would seem fair if what we give in life was more proportional to what we get, but life doesn’t always work in that way. There is a real danger in focusing on what we perceived to be other people’s heaping helping of blessings in comparison to our meager portion. It is a surefire way to discount what you have and to forget the things you should value. Stay in your lane and away from comparing perceived blessings.
4. Create a Place to Store Gratitude. Years ago, I bought a large wooden box with a silver plate on the lid, engraved with “The God Box.” For a couple of decades, I placed various items in the box, but it had no real purpose other than as an accessory. More than three years ago, I decided to start a gratitude jar. I went to a New Year’s Eve party a few days later, where our host gave each of us a drinking glass with our names printed in gold lettering, along with the instruction to use it for 30 days of gratitude. It was a sure sign that I needed this practice. The glass quickly filled, and four containers later, The God Box finally found its purpose. It contains hundreds of slips of paper, dated, with a short note of gratitude. If you are not in the habit of written gratitude, I highly encourage you to do this right away. Whatever you choose to hold your slips of paper doesn’t have to be fancy (remember, my first one was a drinking glass). This practice over the long haul will be life-changing.
5. Use the Power of the Spoken Word. There is something remarkable about speaking gratitude out loud. Our brains tend to believe what we fill them up with (especially if it comes from the sweet sound of our own voices), so fill yours with gratitude. Each time you place a piece of paper into your gratitude container, reinforce your good fortune by speaking it out loud.
6. Be a Gratitude Machine. Don’t reserve your deliberate acts of gratitude for moments when you remember to use your container. Throughout every day, make a conscious effort to acknowledge people and things that deserve your focus.
7. Spread It Around. Find every opportunity you can to tell others what you are grateful for, and if it is them, don’t keep it to yourself. In the current period of panic and worry, you can be the person who lifts somebody’s spirit, reminds them of their blessings, or an escape from a pity party.
Have the courage to look for the good. Refuse to live as a victim, no matter your circumstances. Be a light-bearer. Live gratitude-minded.
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