Finding Ways to Be Grateful

My family always seemed to have a few “zombie” cars around. They still do to this day – if anyone has known me for a few decades they’ll be happy to know my dad’s 1984 Porsche 944 is STILL running thanks to my father’s engineering skills and fine German craftsmanship. When I was in high school in the 90’s I could not wait to get my license.

I’d been working for a few years already and knew a car would allow me to get a better job a little further away. Also, I would not have to walk so much or get carted around by my parents. The 1985 Pontiac Sunbird that sat in the driveway was mine – provided I learned how to drive a stick shift.

“Newness” wears off

Naturally, I learned how to drive it. It wasn’t easy. It broke down a lot and AAA was my ride home on a few occasions. The driver’s seat did not stay in place so there was a 2×4 block of wood that pushed it close enough for my feet to reach the pedals. Radios were considered a driving distraction so that was disconnected. Looking back, I think it just didn’t work and my parents had no incentive to fix it. To compensate for these shortcomings there was always a sweatshirt draped over the board and occasionally a radio in the back seat.

I was not grateful for this car…

I said the most offensive, terrible things to this car – things I’ve never said to another human (out loud) …

I prayed for the day it would stop running and would magically be replaced by something cool like a Volkswagen Jetta…

I probably kicked it a few times…

Hating your way to success doesn’t work

Looking back, I realize that you can’t hate your way into a better situation. Just like you cannot hate your way to a perfect body or fat bank account. Trying to feel #blessed about a bad hand your dealt (or car) is tough. You cannot trick your brain that easily – but here is a method I use now and wish I knew back then. There are ways to go from hating something to feeling neutral about it.

Try this – ask yourself what is one decent thing about this situation? Not good or amazing – just decent. This might feel difficult so here is an example. These are the not so terrible things about that bondo-riddled clunker:

No one ever dated me or wanted to be my friend for my car or my money…

The lack of radio forced my sister and I to roll the windows down and “steal music” from passing cars and sing when we couldn’t hear it anymore (she has a pretty voice) …

Black electrical tape covers a check engine light well enough…

My parents always did whatever they could to help me – even when they had to go without…

It got me where I needed to go…

Love Yourself Enough to Survive Tough Times

There is nothing amazing about being separated from family, getting sick or losing your job. This may be the most difficult time in your life, and it is ok to not feel super grateful this Thanksgiving. However, if you can direct your attention away from the sadness or the anger it is worth a shot.

Punishing yourself repeatedly with your thoughts won’t make things any better. Being kind to yourself is a choice that is always available to you – no matter what the situation is. A small step in the right direction can make a world of difference. Our brains are remarkable and will always find an answer to whatever question you present. It is one of the things I am the most grateful for – everyday.

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