When I'm so in tune with what's not going my way, it is very hard to turn things around. But it's worth the effort- for everyone's sake.
I can recommend one simple strategy that has made a huge difference in my life, time and time again. In the midst of daily trials, I try to remember to think of something - anything - that there is to be thankful for. Looking back over some of my 'worst days ever' I can always find something that I didn't even notice at the time. They may be pretty minor, like finding a car park right outside the Doctors' when I was running late, but they are there.
Sometimes it helps to look at the bigger picture and put things in perspective. Whatever happens I know I am blessed to have a happy and healthy family and to live in a country like Australia.
It's not possible to be thankful and dissatisfied at the same time. Only one leads to happiness!
I've been trying to teach my children the same value of gratitude. One way is by asking what was the best thing that happened today and what was the worst? Apart from getting them to think about the good things going on, it helps me get to know them better and stay in touch with what is going on in their lives.
I read once that 'comparison is the death of self-contentment.' I must agree, although it only applies when we compare ourselves with those people who seem better off than we do. My family has recently moved into a house which overlooks the neighbour's pool from one bedroom window. My daughter spent a great deal of time sighing about the injustice of not being able to enjoy a swim in our own backyard.
We had a chat about how fortunate we are in so many ways. I tried to compare our way of life and where we live to other people who aren't as well off. It actually wasn't that easy to come up with some examples she could relate to - it's easier to notice what we don't have rather than what we do. So we don't have a pool but we have plenty to be thankful for.
We can learn from the United States. We've all heard of the American national celebration called 'Thanksgiving.' It's been an annual tradition since it was first officially proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 during the Civil War. Originally a religious tradition, it was first celebrated to give thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony survive their first brutal winter in new England.
I was surprised recently to hear that there's a move to make it a regular event on Australia's calendar.
On May 29, led by the Australian Prayer Network, we held our own national celebration. For more information go to www.thanksgiving.org.au It's a great idea to make it an annual event in this country but why wait a whole year to celebrate when we can be thankful every day of the year?