(I never owned a boat…Positive: I never need maintain or repair one, either. Here’s one on Salt Pond, Martha’s Vineyard. Photo: CKMellor)
Make an “Ingratitude List”…and ‘Turn It Around’
Oh, everyone talks about it as if it’s ‘the’ thing to do: Make a Gratitude List.
People in recovery (from alcohol, etc.) swear by it and some make that Gratitude List daily… Now, the question looms: “Why would people whose body allergy disallows them alcohol ( beverage of choice for most celebratory events in America) get themselves into the mode of mentally checking off the positives in their lives?”
Answer? They tick off these so they don’t fall victim to the negativity that got them into the abysmal pit, in the first place. In other words, they don’t allow the chip on their shoulders to grow to boulder proportions. For these people know: Self-pity challenges sobriety.
But if such a thing confounds you (for its positive slant), I suggest coming at it from a different direction. In other words, make yours an “Ingratitude List.” Then list the unexpected positive each might provide.
Ingratitude List…I’m ungrateful because I….
Lost My Job: What’s the positive? Consider this time in your life (when you’re not chained to that desk in the cubicle) as “valuable,” a period you can reassess where you are in life and go in a new direction. Perhaps you can get affordable training at a community college, preparing yourself for what you always wanted to do.
With more time, you can interact with others (being alone is dangerous), reinventing yourself. Oftentimes, people with job security discover only later in life that their cushy salary and job actually imprisoned them… disallowing them growth.
Divorced (or otherwise ‘alone’): Positive? You’ve learned what you don’t want in a mate because you’ve experienced it. Stop beating yourself up. Fortified with your new awareness, you’ll weigh pro’s and con’s of a new relationship, recognizing “No relationship is waaayyy better than a bad one.” In the meantime, you can work on self-improvement so that when that terrific person comes along, you’ll be the fully-actualized person you weren’t before.
If you’ve been single for a long time, you’ve probably delved into areas of self-discovery others haven’t. You’re a master at planning and co-ordinating with others; you have a most diverse group of friends. Frequently those who are joined-at-the-hip with another (in marriage or relationships) flounder badly when something happens to their mates. That will never happen to you because you’ve nurtured your independent side.
Plagued with health crises: Positive? You’re topside (sorry to be “flip”) and live in a country where (in most cases), you qualify for good health care. If you’ve had serious illness, with the limitations it imposed, you’ve developed empathy and humility. These will stand you well in life.
Then, too, you’ve probably gained expertise in deciphering the language of health care providers (because you had to): No longer is their world a maze of incomprehensible jargon. Knowledge gained in the health crisis has made you a potent consumer.
Disrespected by Grown Kids: They don’t appreciate what you’ve done and find fault with you for past “sins” (while cutting others significant slack). Possible positive slant? You raised them to be independent thinkers. If you wish they’d show more respect, they probably do to the rest of the world where posturing is important. Maybe they “let it fly with you” because that’s the ONLY area they can…It might be a strange sign of trust.
Frustrated with ‘Massively-Inefficient’ Country: The President and Congress appear eternally at odds, wasting time and valuable resources. Positive? Consider, instead, the fact our country is a GIANT free democracy whose legislators represent wildly disparate factions, all clambering for attention. If Congress can’t seem to get along, recall that small families of 3 and 4 suffer infighting and spend years (even lifetimes) not speaking to one another! Congress may actually be doing well—all things considered.
So, an Ingratitude List flipped. It’s not Polyanna Pap. It’s merely a matter of turning each of the negative facets of one’s life into positives…
But, make no mistake: Making that list–daily–takes practice as well as the will to view things differently. Successful AA’s consider their Gratitude List a ticket out of the negativity that got them into that abyss of despair. Can 9-10 million recovering alcoholics be wrong? (It’s all in how one sees it).
What do you think?
(At the top of my “Ingratitude List” is the fact I see my family so infrequently. The Positive? I cherish the times we have. Here are my 3 little grandsons and younger daughter, as we sit huddled under a stick tee-pee, in winter.)
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