Thankful: February 2015

Are you a grateful person? Do you immediately look for the negative side of any good thing that happens, or are you able to enjoy something for what it is? Some people seem to have a more positive outlook than others, but unless there’s a medical or psychological reason for this it makes me sad that someone would choose to not be happy most of the time. We’re alive, we’re not incarcerated so we have of freedom of choice and can decide each day what we want to do, even if we wish we had more options, even if we wish we had better options.

A negative outlook is poisonous: negativity breeds more of the same, and worst of all it spreads, especially to sensitive people who let others affect their mood more than they should (not that I have any familiarity with people like that; ahem).

I could look up grateful and thankful in the dictionary to be sure, but I see gratefulness as an attitude that leads to the action of giving thanks. I give thanks to God every day because I’m grateful that I’m still here, especially when people are dying every day from all sorts of things: terrorist acts, crazy weather, allergy-related deaths, car accidents…the list goes on. This month I’m sharing the things that stood out. To me they aren’t coincidences or stuff that “just happened”—they’re acts of divine intervention.

cute-birthday-girl-m

  1. I’m thankful for my (non-designer) eyeglasses! They’re a different look from my old pair and I’m enjoying the change.
  2. Two weeks ago my right eye started to feel like there was a small grain of sand under the eyelid. No amount of rubbing, blinking and wiping could get rid of this piece of grit, and worse, no one could see it. I shared the issue with my friend Ves a couple of days later and she mentioned that it might be an eye infection, however my eye wasn’t red (which was a surprise, given all the rubbing I was doing). She suggested that I buy eye drops but the drops I wanted to buy were sold out at the store that I went to. There was another type of eye drops that might have helped with my symptoms but I deemed it too expensive. I decided to pray for this irritant to leave my eye and when I didn’t get an instant answer to my prayer I got annoyed, then I checked myself and just told God that I trusted him to make my eye better again. One or two days later, just as I was starting to think this would be my new normal unless I went to a doctor, I realized the gritty feeling was gone—I’m very thankful for the relief! Conveniently the whole experience reminded me of the gossip blog post and the “log in your eye/speck in your neighbour’s eye” passage from the bible.
  3. I’m thankful that a friend is pregnant despite the challenges that went along with it, due to an earlier medical situation.
  4. I’m thankful for the treat of a dinner date with Allison, and for her career-related achievements.
  5. You know how some answers to prayers are multi-step? For example, someone praying for a spouse may go through the following steps:
    1. Meet a godly person
    2. Both parties think the other person is swell and worth knowing
    3. Start dating
    4. Grow to know and love one another
    5. Decide mutually to marry
    6. Someone proposes
    7. Marriage ensues

    I am thankful that things are unfolding nicely for a friend. The situation isn’t marriage actually, but I’m thrilled about the progress.

  6. Two sweet babies that I love, a girl and a boy, celebrated their first birthdays this month. The sweet girl is the one in that picture above.
  7. I’m thankful for mental and physical health, especially when I consider how quickly both can deteriorate if we’re not careful. This increasing awareness that I can’t just eat what I want and not move my body becomes more nagging as I get older. In order to accomplish everything that I still want to do, I need my health. Given all the information that we have access to it’s hard not to be a bit of an hypochondriac at times, so when I’m feeling worried I say this rhyme I made up to myself: I am healthy, I am whole, and my God is in control. It calms me down…until the next moment that I find myself repeating it—oh well!
  8. Health insurance (provided by my employer) is a wonderful thing! My dentist recently told me that she thinks I may grind my teeth and suggested a fix—I told her that I think the problem is that I eat unpopped popcorn kernels and crunch on bones, things she’s told me before to stop doing in the past. Dental appointments aren’t cheap but they’re waaaay more affordable with health insurance!
  9. Finally I give thanks for my mustard seed sized faith when it comes to finding love and losing weight. I know what my part is in making these things happen, so I’ve started saying to God what the father of the demon-possessed son said in Mark 9:24: I believe; help my unbelief.

And those were the highlights of this month, from a thankful perspective! I hope you had some things to be thankful for; share some of them below if you dare!

10 thoughts on “Thankful: February 2015

  1. While i agree that its overall better to have a positive outlook on life it irks me a bit when people think it is so easy to just “choose happiness”. It’s not fair to tell someone who has had a different life to just “choose happiness”. I find that its easier for those who have had it relatively okay or decent to dig deep and find the happiness.

    I would find it insulting if i were a small child who was born into a war torn country. parents dead either by war or militants. may be infected by hiv or gang raped by men and i just say “choose happiness”. I think all things being equal everyone would be happy but life can be hard. We can only try to see the best in life and try to have hope to help in coping.

    So hopefully, this doesn’t come out as I am angry but I have this argument with people constantly lol. Have a great weekend!

    • Hi Taynement!

      My short response:

      In tragic circumstances, choosing to be happy is not easy. I recently heard of Elie Wiesel, a concentration camp survivor who went on to win a Nobel Peace Prize and we all know the atrocities that were committed in death camps. He’s one of many people who’ve managed to find the good in an atrocious situation. People have lost their entire families, or have had their lives turned upside down by a car accident and have managed to forgive the person(s) who ruined their lives and find purpose again…in time.

      My longwinded response:

      I agree: it would be quite insensitive to tell someone dealing with tragedy to “just choose to be happy”; most of us would instead empathize with them, comfort and support them to the best of our ability. We’d probably recommend professional help too.

      It takes time to get to the point where you believe that things can and will get better— it’s not instantaneous, and believing things will get better doesn’t erase what happened. There are no rules on how soon someone has to “snap out of” what has happened and go from (God forbid) an HIV diagnosis to being Pollyanna. The length of the journey will depend on the person, and for those who believe, it’ll depend on when they’re ready to let God heal their understandably negative feelings.

      But just think about how different the lives of two people with these outlooks could be:

      Person A
      I have HIV, I’m going to die, I was betrayed and infected with a disease I didn’t deserve, I hate the person who did this to me and I’ll never forgive the @!#$, I have no future, my life is over.

      Person B
      I have HIV, I’m going to die but before I do I’m going to enjoy to the best of my ability the time I have left. I was betrayed and infected with a disease I didn’t deserve and I hope I can one day forgive the person who did this to me. I will not repay evil with evil. I have a future, however short—many people have made their short lives count. My life is not over until God says so, I will live my life to the fullest. I can be an example and a source of hope for other people.

      Most people would probably be Person A for a long time before moving to Person B, but I hope that however long it takes we could become Person B (or even better), otherwise those remaining years would seem very long indeed, and that would probably lead to depression and worse. Becoming Person B means believing that good can come from a terrible situation.

      On the opposite side, there are people who’d complain that their parents gave them a Toyota rather than a BMW, or that their new job that pays double their old salary has a longer commute than their previous job. Those are classic cases of negative people who just can’t see the good in anything and I can’t stand that.

  2. In the spirit if thankfulness, I am thankful that I was introduced to the concept of letting my life speak as advocated by Parker Palmer in his book “Let your life speak”.
    I am beginning to listen to my life more and see patterns and signposts along the way that point me to what my life’s vocation is all about.
    I am thankful that this fine morning, I ordered the book on amazon and it will be on my doorstep any day now.
    Anyway now……:-)
    I am also thankful that I nominated Jummy for the Liebsters….even tho she did not acknowledge, I am thankful still :-) :-)

    • That sounds like a really interesting book, Tamkara; I’m glad that you’re getting clarity on what your life’s work should be. I’ve put it on hold at the library because I could definitely use some clarity.

      Re: the Liebster: lol! I’m the worst, aren’t I? :(

  3. I am thankful for your love notes that make me think and reflect on the importance of lists and gratitude.
    I am thankful for friends and family.
    I have also found out that the happiest people are not those with a fat bank account but many times people in refugee camps who are able to go home after fighting a deadly disease! Their positive outlook on life makes me ashamed about how ungrateful I am and how I’m always looking to make my life better than it is.

    • Thank you, Tomi…it’s great to see you! I hope you’re doing well. :)

      It’s good to be reminded by others to be thankful; it remind us to be humble. I don’t see anything wrong with wanting to make our lives better; it just depends on the attitude we have towards our current life. It’s ok to want more but we should also try to find some peace with where we currently are on our way to where we want to be (apropos for me since I was complaining about my bank account earlier this week!). Do enjoy the rest of your week!

  4. I am thankful this month (February), for my family and my boyfriend, my new/old and deepening relationships with online “friends,” my job, and even though I sometimes complain about being exhausted from my overly-busy lifestyle, I am thankful for the ability to do the things I enjoy (travel, learn languages meet people etc.)

    • Lots of things to be thankful for—I’m happy for you, Clara. It sounds like you’re living your life to the fullest. :)

  5. If I was forced to classify myself, i guess i would be a pessimist. I have been trying though to be more positive but it is quite hard. Funny enough it is easier for me to be positive for my friends/loved ones. I liked Taynement’s comment and your response to her. Definitely lots to learn.

    • It’s really hard to break any habit, so be kind to yourself and expect that there will be setbacks. I want to stop gossiping and every day, especially at work, I have a setback. Same with reducing the amount of sugar I consume: there are good days and bad days. Even just being able to identify something as a setback means that there’s increased awareness of the issue and in some small way I see that as progress.

      Taynement brought up the awesome point that it’s not easy to change a habit. It sure isn’t, but it is possible.

      Have a wonderful weekend, neuyogi, and I’m sorry for the long wait for my reply!

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