(EVENT: Join me this Friday for coffee and an informal but impactful chat on the power of breathing and the role it plays in our success!)
Around the halfway point of the year, it becomes painfully clear that another year is about to bite the dust in just a few months. You ask yourself, “where did the time go?” and immediately start to think back to all of the things you should have done or the mistakes you wish you could quietly forget. Or maybe that’s just me…
When you turn on your TV or log onto social media, you’re told be grateful for the good times and to celebrate the positives and the wins.
But what if you’re finding it hard to be thankful sometimes? Especially during a global pandemic?
For anyone who has faced any sort of extreme challenge, struggle or loss this year, sometimes the pain that results from that can make it hard to see things clearly. Even if you haven’t technically become ill with the coronavirus, each and everyone of us is still dealing with this thing and the impact it has had on all of our lives. So many things have changed or gone away completely and for so many of us, that change or loss is an emotional thing.
And yes, there are many resources at your disposal as you deal with everything (faith, counseling, friends, meditation, exercise, etc.). But what if that still doesn’t help?
There are just those times when you feel like “why me?” because things just seem so bad and the challenges so insurmountable. And no one else must be dealing with this kind of utter yuckiness too.
In the midst of one these gloomy moments one morning, an orange, yes that bright, juicy, flavorful fruit, beautifully reminded me about life and gratitude. No, the orange wasn’t actually talking to me. I haven’t gone that cooky…yet. Here are a few observations that I wanted to share with you in the hopes they provide value.
When life seems to be filled with sadness or strife, the orange deliciously reminds us that joy can be found everywhere…even in an orange slice. I honestly think it’s why we have the tough times; so that we have a reason to cherish and celebrate all of the good ones. Life moves so fast today. When something good happens, we are typically more concerned with capturing it on social media rather than just being there in that moment. Joy can be found by being present and savoring and appreciating life’s experiences bite by bite.
When you’re eating an orange, it tastes good any way you eat it, but it really seems to explode with flavor when you savor each peeled slice one by one. I’ve made a personal commitment (and invite you to do the same) now through the end of the year, to take time each day to reflect on something small but meaningful that brought joy into my life. Recent joys include a very good friend’s successful cancer procedure and the warmth and comfort I felt arriving home after an impromptu road trip to visit family. Felt very grateful for both of these things.
I remember a couple of years ago reading a story about the town of Corpus Christi discovering that its water supply was potentially contaminated by a petroleum based chemical. City officials warned residents to not use tap water as it couldn’t be sanitized and to use bottled water instead. Naturally, that prompted a shortage in the community and really challenging times for residents and families.
Look. I don’t need salsa. Or the coffee I get on a regular basis at Starbucks. But I need water. We all need it to exist. This news story sticks out in my mind all of these years later because it reminded me of a little boy’s heartfelt plea that appeared on my Facebook Timeline back then. He was the son of one of my Facebook friends. He looked to be no more than six years old. He had recorded (or maybe his mommy) a short video of himself raising money to send water down to Corpus Christi. He was going to use all of the money in his piggy bank ($9) and asked if we would help too. Yes, insert ugly cry for sure. Despite the bad, life is honestly still sweet.
Out of hell and turmoil, the spirit to overcome, to give back and to support one another lives in each of us. Even today, I am still thankful to young Brian for the awesome example he set for so many of us.
When I am feeling very down, I know that it is time to get outside of myself and look for ways to help others. Helping other people not only feels good, but it serves as the ultimate kryptonite against those terribly low times that sometimes feel inescapable.
You can’t pop the bottle of champagne and celebrate only when things are good. You’ve got to keep celebrating the good times when it’s bad too. As I was finishing that orange, slice by slice, I observed there were some slices that weren’t quite as juicy or sweet as the others. Nevertheless, they were tasty and I still ate them. Most importantly, they didn’t detract from the other five or six pieces that were perfect.
When the tough gets going, it’s easy to focus on just the really crappy aspects of life and forget about the big picture. But I think we are the most powerful when we use our pain for good. And we remain thankful for every single piece of this life we have been blessed with.
Thinking back, if I hadn’t been laid off that fateful day many moons ago, I probably wouldn’t have had nearly the amount of experiences needed to write this. Sure, life would have still been plagued with challenges but not anything near what I’ve experienced as an entrepreneur. I am thankful for this journey, the good and the bad.
Keep the good vibes going with some of my faves:
Gratitude Lined Notebook by Goop
Leading with Gratitude: Eight Leadership Practices for Extraordinary Business Results
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