Donna Weston, Founder and Executive Director
How in the World Can You Expect Me to be Thankful?
So, I am sitting here thinking about being thankful. Sometimes, I can get so bogged down in the day to day tasks of life that I don’t remember what I have to be thankful for! Raising a child who is a struggling learner impacts the whole family (as teaching a class with struggling learners impacts the whole class). His pain becomes my pain. His behavior makes me wonder if I am doing the right things and if there is something – anything – that I can do differently to help him. My eyes turn inward and downward. It is easy to get frustrated and discouraged. I am also aware that negative thoughts lead to negative thoughts. So how do I get unstuck? How do I see the positive in the midst of the negative? How can I learn to be thankful in the midst of the complications of life?
The Apostle Paul gave some wise advice in the book of 2 Corinthians writing, “…take every thought captive to make it obedient to Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV). One application of this is to take each thought and apply truth to it - something well worth practicing. Dr. Archibald Hart in his book, The Anxiety Cure, refers to it as the “happy messenger”. He explains that many times our irrational fears or negative thinking can be addressed by asking ourselves what the truth of the matter we’re thinking about really is. Here are some examples:
When I practice this, I find that my heart lifts. I am less irritable with the little things and a bit more patient with the big things. So, while the poopy diaper may be gross, it is a fact of life, and I can focus on enjoying my boy and think about the fact that I won’t have to deal with it once my little guy is potty trained – another application of positive truth!
My boys are grown now, including my struggling learner. Life has been filled with ups – and plenty of downs. Practicing perspective has become easier over time. It is now a habit (most of the time!). It has been very helpful in dealing with the frustrating (to overwhelming) events that get thrown at me.
An excellent resource for developing a positive mindset in the midst of chaos is One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. In it, she explains the practice of being thankful. She has also written an accompanying book that helps by providing sixty days of practicing recognizing the positive things around us.
So, what are your examples? Take a few minutes to write down the things that are pulling you down. Reflect - what is the positive in this situation? Those things that you cannot find anything positive to say about, bring to a friend or someone you trust who may be able to help you see it from a different perspective. Hey, if nothing else, you have someone to talk to about this stuff! And, that is positive. That is something to be thankful for!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.