If you can’t think of anything to be thankful for, start by being thankful to be alive. While it may be morbid to dwell on our own mortality, it is essential to recognize how lucky we are to be here. We are tiny specks in the grand scheme of things. When you open your eyes in the morning, you have been given the gift of another day to live. You have 24 hours in the day.
How are you spending your time?
Every morning when you wake up, you have options. You can dread the day ahead, or you can start plotting ways to make it less dreadful. You can sulk at your desk job all day, or you can accept that you are doing your best to survive. Maybe it isn’t your dream job, but it’s earning you a paycheck. You are doing your best until you can do better. Maybe this is the best job you’re ever going to get. If nothing else, be thankful you have one.
When you get home in the evenings, do you ever think about how lucky you are to have made it home? Some people don’t make it home. You did. Do you spend the following hours of joyous free time worrying about the next day or do you fill up those hours doing what you enjoy? It doesn’t have to be extravagant, it can be as simple as cooking a meal. It can be playing in the floor with your kids and engaging their imaginations. It can be anything, so long as you find it enjoyable.
Time is not something we are promised, yet we spend so much time wasting it. Truly think about how you spend your hours everyday. Do you feel accomplished at the end of your day? Do you feel like you’ve made a difference? It can be as simple as offering a compliment or offering to do a favor for someone. It can be striking up a conversation with a stranger who may not have anyone else to talk to in this world. It can be holding the door, allowing a car to merge into traffic, or biting your tongue when you know your words will sting. It only takes simple acts of basic kindness to live a truly remarkable life.
We get stuck thinking we need to be brilliant, amazing people in order to make a difference. It doesn’t take much to turn around an entire day.
One of the biggest time thieves today is the internet. Do you waste hours of time scrolling on social media and dwelling on how others are spending their time? Social media is a wonderful tool for sharing photos and staying connected to those you love. It shouldn’t be used to avoid showing up for people in real life. We have all been victims of someone glued to their phone during a real life conversation. Some do it out of habit. Others do it to appear super important and busy. Regardless of the reason, it’s rude. It’s ruining genuine human connection.
It is so easy to feel connected to people when you are seeing every aspect of their lives play out on Facebook. You feel you’ve supported them with every update you “like”. We are all painting the best version of our lives online. We need to be sharing our struggles with each other face to face, too. Pick-up the phone and call the people you care about, even if the call is brief. Think about the human voice for a moment. No two voices sound the exact same. We remember the specific way people sound and yet we are losing that connection. Better yet, show up if you’re in their neighborhood and have a chat.
Speaking of loved ones, do you actively show appreciation for the people in your life who show up for you? I know how easy it is to fill up your calendar and use busyness as an excuse. We all do it. Sometimes it’s easier to text than actually spend hours in person catching up with a friend. We assume we will always have our loved ones around whenever we want to see them. This is sadly untrue. People can be taken from us at any moment.
Have you ever noticed how people will pour out their true feelings after a person has passed away but not while they are still alive? We assume people in our lives know how much we care about them. The present moment is all we are guaranteed.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to invest your time into the people you love most.
You may be reading this and thinking it sounds wonderful in theory. Maybe you feel like it’s impossible to achieve this on a daily basis. You’re right. It is incredibly challenging. Like everything else in life worth doing, it will not be easy. We use distractions as tools to avoid confronting how much of our lives we are wasting. We get into predictable routines, busy ourselves, and avoid confronting areas of our lives where we could make positive changes.
There is a quote written by Annie Dillard, in The Writing Life that says, “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and that one is what we are doing.” Picture your life 30 years from now as an accumulation of how you spent today. If you like what you see, keep doing what you’re doing. If you don’t, make changes. No amount of positivity can promise you the perfect life.
It can however, shape your attitude and how you handle whatever life decides to throw at you. In the end, people will remember how you chose to handle life, not what life handed you.