Today I am thankful. I have so many wonderful things going for me right now I can't help but feel blessed.
It is not the easiest thing to be thankful in my present situation. There is a lot that could stand in the way of being happy. My feelings of contentment don't mean that I am ignoring the negative. (Ignorance may be bliss, but it can also be a big step towards self delusion.) I can't completely control my environment, but I can control how I react to it. I can choose focus on pain, fatigue, financial issues, health and all the other things that plague my daily existence, or I can choose to acknowledge all of that as well as the millions of little happy things in my life and let the positive thoughts shine through.
Thankfulness is like a wave of warmth that washes over you. You can wrap it around you like blanket and let it be your shield and your protection against the negative things in life. It is the light at the end of the tunnel that everyone strives for and the beacon on the shore guiding you through the dark fog to the safety of the shore.
Feeling good is not always easy and it isn't something that comes naturally to everyone. When life is filled with the chaos of news, fights, pollution, appointments, stress, work, etc. there seems to be little room or time to look on the bright side, let alone say "Thank You" for it. For those of us who deal with Depression every day, just breathing in and out can be a chore. Happiness feels like a precious jewel that is just out of reach beyond a gray fog of misery. But how do we reach that sort of a goal in the midst of everything that pulls us down further and further each minute.
When I was young, one of my favorite movies was a Disney film starring Haley Mills called Pollyanna. It was about a child who had lived a life a poverty as her parents were missionaries in small countries. When her entire family died, she went to her only relative, a very rich aunt who was in charge of almost everything in the small town they lived in. Everyone there seemed content to be grouchy and negative all the time, until Pollyanna showed them the virtue of being "Glad." She proved she could find something to be Glad about in any situation. She even turned the "Hellfire and Damnation" preacher around by pointing out that there are 417 joyful passages in the bible. (That might not be the right number, but you get the picture.) By the end of the movie, , the scary old man in the "haunted house" decided to adopt one of the orphans from the town, the old woman who was "bedridden" was making quilts for the orphanage, and her aunt stopped being a frigid spinster and allowed her old beau to woo her. Very fairytale, indeed, but I still loved to watch it again and again.
Perhaps it seems silly to go around looking for things to get excited about. It can be downright annoying to other people, actually. When people walk around grinning and saying, "I feel blessed!" all the time, I know it drives me up the wall. I have to wonder what they are smoking in all their "bible studies." On the other hand, it is just as annoying to see someone trudging down the hall with a look of torture on their face. The trend in teens to appear "Emo" and distraught all the time is something that I hope disappears as fast as Grunge did. I think there may a middle ground there, though. (Of course, I always think there is a middle ground, but that's what makes me, ME.) I am sure there is a way to be happy and content without ignoring the trials of your life and a way to handle the tragedies that come and go without becoming lost in them.
I have to practice feeling happy and thankful every day. To me, feeling content seems as difficult as running a marathon or writing a symphony. Just like an aspiring athlete or a musician who wants to improve their craft, a depressive person must flex the positive "muscles" so that they can get stronger. Going through the same motions again and again to embrace thankfulness makes bringing up those feelings of positivity easier and easier each time. Making a routine or a habit out of looking for things to be happy about is both difficult and rewarding.
I started a long time ago when I had trouble sleeping. I had morbidity fears at a young age and it would keep me awake for hours at night. Then, I heard an old song about "Falling asleep counting blessings." I was pretty desperate, so I tried it. Dear God,. thank you for my house that keeps me safe. Thank you for my parents who take care of me. Thank you for my sisters and brother who keep me company and my school friends (the ones who don't beat me up.) Thank you for the Principal who makes sure I don't get beat up at school anymore. Thank you for the dollar of toothfairy money I have saved in my secret drawer, even though I don't know what I will spend it on.... and so it went until I fell asleep. Strangely enough, it eventually cured my night time fears of falling asleep.
Now that I am older, I have many other ways that I express my thankfullness now that I know what a useful tool it can be. Sometimes, I write my blessings down in a jourmal so I can go back and read them when I feel really down. Other times, I feel too bad to lift a pencil and I am in the middle of a Pity Party (I hate everything to day and life sucks and I wish it was better because it really does suck....) I had one vrey wise person tell mne that it was ok to feel grouchy about life, but not to let it get you down for too long. If you are going to feel sorry for yourself, go ahead and be purposeful about it. Sit down and have a real Pity Party for yourself. Set a timer and let yourself feel down in the dumps until the timer goes off. Once you get it out of your system, you are free to go about your life without it dragging you down. Very often, I start my Pity Party and before the timer goes off, I feel tired of being sad and I just go do something else. I guess it is a little like facing your fears. When you come at them head on, they don't have nearly as much power as they do when you try ignore or avoid them.
Tonight, in spite of the pain, and fatigue, and bank balance, and nearly empty pantry, I have a family in my livingroom eating spaghetti prepared by the girls (mostly) by themselves and a husband who is giving me time to write because he knows it is important to me. I have a job to go to tomorrow and car that will get me there. DH has a job to go to, as well as a second vehicle to get him there. I have three daughters instead of two and I have one very lazy but very sweet dog to cuddle with.
I'm going to go watch Pollyanna now, because I can.
Debbie "I'm Blessed" Lollar