She called me one day, crying hysterically. I could barely understand what she was saying, but I knew it was bad, really bad. “Erin, nothing’s going right in my life. It’s all too much. I can’t do it all. I am so over it.” This was my good friend Carol and I had never seen her like this before. Always happy, upbeat, smiling and laughing, I was at a loss for words. She was the one that always cheered me up. What was I going to say?
As I asked her what was going on, she explained how, over the last two years, she’d been so depressed. She wanted to run away. Work was overwhelming, her husband was draining her of all her energy, and she just didn’t see any of it letting up anytime soon. She sounded so sad! She was done. Broken. Over it. She said the only thing she wanted to do was run away. Live off the grid with no cell phone, no WIFI, nothing. Away.
When I asked a little bit more about what was triggering this, I told her that she had to change her focus. I said, “Look at you. You’re beautiful. You’ve got a great personality. You’ve got family that loves you. You’re healthy, and yet, you’re allowing these two circumstances, this one person to steal your joy week after week, month after month.” The fact is that there are some things in life we cannot change. We can’t change people. We can’t make them do what’s right. And if we are constantly trying to get people to act the way we want them to, we are only going to frustrate ourselves.
Then I started laughing…which, given the situation, didn’t go over very well. But I wasn’t laughing at Carol. I was laughing at our entire society. I mean, think about it. Our biggest problems are when we can’t get a good WIFI connection, when we have too many emails to read, and we have too much work to do. But yet, just a few generations ago, people came to this country with nothing. Just a hope and a dream. They took a chance, a leap of faith, leaving their hometowns on the other side of the world to start a new life. And more recently, women in this country were fighting hard for the rights to vote! To be able to work! And here we are, complaining and crying about it.
But the pain is very real. Even if the problems don’t seem that big of a deal, the pain is. So, what do we do about it?
We have to discipline ourselves to be grateful. We have to stay focused on the positive. Our minds naturally want to go toward the negative, it is just how we are wired. So it’s going to take a little bit of effort to shift ourselves to the attitude of gratitude.
The thing we have to remember is that everyone faces difficult situations in life. If we were to ask everyone in the world to put their problems into a big pile, we would gladly take back our problems.
When we are feeling like it is all too much and we feel ourselves spiraling downward, we can snap out of this crazy feeling. When we are overwhelmed and stressed to the max, we should have the attitude that says, 'no matter what's happening, I'm going to choose to be grateful.’
We tell ourselves: I'm not going to focus on what's wrong. I'm going to find something positive in my life. I may be sick, but, I am grateful that I woke up this morning. I may be struggling in my marriage, but I am grateful that I have a great family. I may be drowning in my work, but, I am grateful for having a good job. I may not have gotten the position I wanted, but I am grateful that I was able to see another sunrise, that I could hear the birds singing this morning, that I could smell the flowers.
With Thanksgiving Day approaching, I hope we will remember the people that came here to the US, leaving the only things they’ve ever known behind. In search of a better life. As we think about the hardships and the struggles our own families have had to endure, I ask you – what are you grateful for today? Tell me in the comments below!