It’s another day where my email inbox is so overstuffed with stuff that I miss even seeing half of it. It’s metaphoric for one of the big questions of life in general: How can I have LESS of the stuff I don’t want and MORE of the stuff I DO want?
While the internet is fairly new, this question is an ancient one. Why is it that we seem to get more of what we don’t want, and less of what we want? Could it simply be that we notice the “Don’t Wants” more?
The Don’t -wants scream louder. They get in our face and disrupt our best laid plans. The database crashes or the internet service at my office konks out and I hear “new cable…4 week wait.” Illness interferes with vacation plans…and that’s just the small stuff.
Yet it’s the small stuff that can sap our energy and turn life into a palette of dull colors. We begin to notice more and more of the small stuff we don’t want and in turn, expect more of the same. Consequently, we tend to notice the Don’t-wants more than anything, and we then live a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This seems obvious, but is it? Ask someone what’s bothering them and you’ll get a list. Ask how they are blessed and they may list a few things (unless their database crashed that morning or they had a flat tire, etc.) Perhaps it’s human nature to notice what’s wrong, but why is it human nature to go out seeking more of the same? Is it because we feel that we need validation? “See, I TOLD you….Nothing ever goes right!”
Neutralizing the Don’t-wants takes a bit of effort to consciously notice and acknowledge the things in our lives that we do want. This is where developing an “attitude of gratitude” comes in. It takes some effort to not focus on Migraine Mountain and instead focus on the simple fact that “I got up this morning.” (Some days that’s about the best I can come up with.) But it gets easier.
The first thing we notice is that we aren’t really seeing anything NEW, we’re just…seeing. Hm, if I didn’t see a car under the carport every morning, that would be a real problem. Not having a job to complain about is a bigger complaint than whining about an unfulfilling job. What’s the shortest blues song ever? “I didn’t wake up this morning.” You get the picture.
My feet hurt. Thank you, God, I am able to stand.
I’m tired. Thank you, God, I had someone counting on me today.
It’s been MamaMamaMama all day. Thank you, God, I have children who turn to me and sometimes even listen to me!
If you happen to be thinking “oh, I’ve heard all this gratitude stuff before,” then why aren’t you taking it to heart? Here’s a challenge: Take the next 20 minutes and look around you, and just say “thank you for…….” and keep going. Don’t stop, keep going even if you find yourself saying “thank you for ice cubes…for refrigerators…for garden hoses…for the garbage that I have to take out…” Make that thank you list as long as you can, and I’ll bet you run out of time before you run out of things to list.
It might be slow at first, but keep it up. Go out of your way to spend “Gratitude Minutes,” especially when you are feeling crushed by the Don’t-wants. You might be surprised to start seeing more of the things you want show up more frequently.