The other day, I was saying my morning prayers and I decided to say I was grateful for everything I didn’t really like in my life.
I am grateful for bad days.
I am grateful for sticky floors.
I am grateful for toys all over the floor.
I am grateful for when my kids scream.
I am grateful for days when I have nothing to do.
I am grateful for having too much to do sometimes.
I am grateful that I live in the middle of nowhere.
I am grateful for mosquito bites.
I am grateful for for getting hurt.
I am grateful for being tired.
I am grateful for all of it.
And saying that helped me feel grateful. Because a lot of bad things aren’t really that bad, or they are a consequence of good things, or they are at least opportunities for learning and growth. And I am grateful for all of that.
Having less often means that you are more grateful. Isn’t that silly? I just heard Brene Brown talk about how when we are really happy and things are going really well, we usually are expecting something horrible to happen. We don’t let ourselves feel joy. We don’t let ourselves be truly grateful for the absolutely amazing things we have. It’s okay to be grateful. It’s okay that you have a lot and that you recognize that. Life is unfair–but sometimes that works in our favor, and we can recognize the absolutely amazing blessings we have.
Fear makes us do stupid things. I get scared of getting tired, and so I don’t do anything (and I feel tired). I get scared of being sick, so I don’t fully engage in life or take care of problems when they happen. I’m scared of talking to people, so I end up being super awkward. Fear isn’t rational. Fear doesn’t lead us down good paths.
Sometimes, it has been useful to me to zoom out on my life. We can get so stuck in avoiding those small moments of pain that we totally forget about the big picture. It’s good to remember the good picture: everything goes away. Right now is all we have.
A few days ago, I was sitting at home with my kids. We were bored. There isn’t a lot to do where I live, or very many places to go–and I have usually blamed my circumstances on any discontent I’ve felt, and wanted to be somewhere else.
But I moved away from this and then I came back (I sort of recommend doing this, because usually you don’t appreciate what you have until you don’t have it anymore). I know now that I get bored at home no matter where I live. It’s just part of life with small children.
So I wasn’t in a bad situation after all, and I didn’t have to change anything about my life to find additional happiness. I just needed to change myself.
For a little bit, I felt bored and I felt a bit discontented (and that was okay), but then those feeling passed. And we had a really good time because we were bored. We played with Legos and created a game called haunted, which consisted of pretending you are a ghost in a sleeping bag. The kids slid down my legs over and over again for a while–so I became a playground, which was sort of hilarious.
For a few months, I lived in a dream location, but it turned out that I wasn’t any happier there than I was living out in the middle of nowhere.
So lately, I’ve been working on myself. Not trying to get rid of emotions, but trying to accept them. I know that my life isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s not that bad either.
I don’t hate where I live anymore. In fact, there are a lot of really good things about where I live. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world, for example. I have a comfortable house that is free. We get to spend so much time together as a family without ever having to feel super busy.
All of a sudden, instead of always looking for something better, I feel like I’ve woken up and I’ve looked around and I’ve discovered that my life, as it is, is pretty amazing after all.
My post yesterday was about not achieving your dreams and how that’s okay. But I think we need to realize sometimes how privileged we are to even to be able to dream and set the goals we have in the first place. There are so many people who are merely focused on survival. We often don’t realize how blessed we are because we are seeing our life through a specific lens of what we’re used to.
We usually compare ourselves to people who live similar or better lives than we do, forgetting all the people who struggle and live in a different way. We don’t see outside ourselves. We want to serve and help, but we don’t really want to empathize.
Even though I have dealt with failure and rejection and disappointment, I have four children, a good marriage, a comfortable home–I have so many good things in my life. I have accomplished a lot, but more importantly, life isn’t about the accomplishment anyway.
Life is more about experiences, the stories we tell ourselves and each other, and the ability to keep going and keep trying. Life isn’t about being happy and successful, but about the journey on the way.
So many times, we get so narrow-minded in how we look at things. Our standards and measurements that we apply to ourselves and others are often inaccurate. We could do to love each other more, to be more understanding of different situations, and to see a bigger picture.
I don’t think we can ever the perfect perspective in life–it’s always cloudy and inaccurate. But we can try to recognize the love we have from our Heavenly Father. We can know that eventually, we will be able to make sense of all the difficult things.
During the journey, it’s always good to take time to recognize the blessings that are contained in the very fabric of your life.