DamTowers

Working On It

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”

-Epictetus

Recently, I prepared a short talk for the weekly video call our church small group holds. When the organizer asked if I’d do it, I didn’t hesitate to say ‘Yes’, but I wanted to say ‘Don’t you know I’m a writer, not a speaker?.’ Well, I survived, and here is a tweaked version of my talk in my favorite form, words. I tried to remind myself of this lesson this morning as I grumbled about having to use my backup headphones on my run because my main ones won’t charge.

 

Attitude of Gratitude

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

-1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

 

If there ever was a time when one would need to work on ignoring bad circumstances and recognizing the good, it would be 2020. I’ll admit it. This is hard for me. One of my hobbies is complaining – and I’m quite the expert.

While that’s a semi-joke, I have been convicted that I do complain way too much. And if I do some honest self-examination, I don’t have much to complain about. Sure, a lot of 2020 has been a big inconvenience, but in almost any way you look at it, I have it very good.

And, if you’re able to join video calls, stream movies, or work from home during a pandemic, you have it better than many, many people in this world, as well.

So, here are a few things my wife and I constantly remind ourselves of in the midst of the constant barrage of bad 2020 news. These are the biggies that we are grateful for this year, mostly unexpected good stuff from Lockdown 2020.

The first biggie is family time. We didn’t expect our college senior to return home, but we are grateful for what is likely our last stretch of all the family being together under one roof for an extended period of time. Sure, the grocery bills went way up, but so did ’round the dinner table time.’ We’ve always tried to have family mealtime, but we surpassed any record consecutive family meal streaks we ever had.

Another unexpected family bonus was sibling bonding. Our kids are six years apart and opposite sexes. These differences didn’t help their bonding early in life. I think the last four months have changed that for the better.

Finally, I’m not a big movie watcher, but I’m grateful we’ve had a few more family movie nights. After all, I was paying that Disney+ fee. So, I finally saw the Marvel Avenger’s movies Infinity Wars and Endgame. However, I was banned from picking the movie after we watched Will Farrel’s latest, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. 

The second biggie gratitude point we make to ourselves is that both of our jobs survived (so far, anyway!). Yes, there have been a few minor inconveniences, like wearing a mask while interacting with others at the plant, but that’s a small price to pay for regular pay. As a gratitude job bonus, our new college grad son landed his first post-college job and starts soon.

Finally, here’s the last biggie. We laugh about it because it was just dumb luck. In early March, before the shutdown avalanche of March 12-14, we made our regularly scheduled Costco trip, where we stocked up on paper towels, disinfectant wipes, and toilet paper. We had no idea what a great move that was at the time. We were definitely grateful for that trip by the end of April.

LakeMurray

Keep it Going

So what about going forward? How can you and I keep an Attitude of Gratitude?  I did some searching and here are my five favorite practical tips I found online that could be helpful to you.

  1. Journal. Write down five things every day that you’re thankful for.
  2. Appreciate the small things. It is easy to be grateful for the obvious like keeping your job. But what about something small? As an example, I am grateful for the time I spend sitting on my screened porch listening to a variety of birds and watching wildlife.
  3. Write a letter to someone, thanking them. In my opinion, the majority of people are too self-absorbed. I think it’s hard to be grateful when the focus is on self. Writing a letter to someone will force you to take your mind off yourself and appreciate someone else. Automatic gratefulness. It would be great to mail it or send it via email, but if nothing else, write the letter in your new journal.
  4. Find gratitude in your challenges. This is hard. No one enjoys going through sickness, job loss, or anxiety. Endurance athletes call it  “Embrace the suck.” It kinda means ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ – think of it as exercise, like running or lifting weights. This time the situation is tough but during the next “big thing” you’ll realize ‘Hey, I got this because I’ve done it before!”
  5. Finally, Sing or listen to music. This is my absolute favorite. I found an article about music therapy. which states music can boost your mood. So, if you’re down, put on some happy tunes and sing along. I know happiness and gratitude aren’t the same things, but a mood boost never hurts. Note: most of you need to make sure you’re in the car with the windows rolled up before trying the singing thing.

I recently saw a list of the top 50 happiest songs of all time, as voted on by 33 to 50-year-olds. “Mr. Blue Sky” by ELO was number one. I have to say, I can live with that. Here’s the link to the list: https://www.swnsdigital.com/2020/05/these-are-the-top-50-happiest-songs-ever-released/

MrBlueSky

Thanks for reading,

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PS – Grumpy Greg: Trying not to be grumpy this week. It will probably only last a week…

PPS – Current writing streak: 66 days

Fiction words this week: ~1300 net. Tough week, time-wise. Similar update as last week due to rewrites/revising the first draft. I probably wrote 2500-3000 new words and deleted 1500 old words. This editing and rewriting phase is still slow going.

Bibliography

Gratitude links:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2016/07/08/8-ways-to-have-more-gratitude-every-day/

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/ten_ways_to_become_more_grateful1

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