Remaining thankful, even when life is not so good

Thanksgiving is coming up. It has always been one of my favorite holidays and not just because of the delicious food (though that is convincing). Celebrating our blessings with the ones we love is such a touching, healthy notion. What about when everything falls flat? What about when you are surrounded by hate or conflict? What if you lost your job or even worse, a loved one? Those pressing questions have no easy answer. I don’t deal with easy. Allow me to journey on this tough situation with you. We will both come out better on the other side.

Everyone gets frustrated, angry or discouraged by the adverse circumstances in life. It’s quite normal and it’s okay. What is not okay nor healthy is too revel in our current state of thought and feeling and let it dictate the course of our lives. Human beings hold schemas, ways of perceiving information and the world around us. A study in 2009 by Hoar, Bieling, McCabe, and Westra, looked into self-schemas and the role they play ion cognitive therapy in people with depression. The successful re-arrangement of those self-schemas correlated with better results in therapy.

Mental health starts with changing how we see ourselves, the one thing we do have control over. We can’t control others (a whole other topic I need to cover). We also, to a significant extent, can’t control situations. However, if we adapt our schemas we can begin to overcome depressed feelings and negative thinking. That is where being thankful comes in.

Looking deeper into our lives, we can pick out good things. If you lost your job, you can remain thankful that your value is not the sum of how much you earn or your bank account. If you are frustrated with your current position at your job, remain thankful that promotions are possible and so are changes of careers. If you are in an unhealthy relationship, remain thankful that you both have the choice to mend what is broken or leave if it is beyond repair. To those who lost a loved one, there is nothing I can say to ease that pain. I can say that I hope you can give thanks for the good memories and the love that still remains.

This reccommendation does not discredit or invalidate what you have or are going through. It will not make it go away overnight. This course of action is a way of getting through what you’re going through. The point I hope to deliver to you is that your mindset determines the quality of your life. Those schemas are our maps, so if yours is faulty then expect to have a rough course. This Thanksgiving, take time to find the good in your life and recognize it. Do not let the bad take center stage, overtake and ruin your life. Don’t get into too deep of a food coma and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”G.K. Chesterton

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