Lately I’ve been witness to some very different outlooks on life and things. On one side of the continuum there are those who are thankful and grateful for what they have, and who take pleasure in the “simple things” – family, love, laughter, card games, nature and so on.
On the other side of the continuum are those who are bored without electronics, who cannot find joy in simply being with family, or in the things that the folks on the other side of the continuum do. These are also the ones who tend to be overly critical of people and things and overall seem to not be very happy.
I’ve had up close and personal dealings with these people. My niece and nephew back home fall into the first category. My sister and brother-in-law have done a fantastic job of raising them to be content with what they have in life. It may not be the best, or the brightest, but they are truly happy with their lives. They know how to be of service and how to enjoy family. My daughters also fall into that category, and it is a source of joy to me to be thanked for making dinner, or reading nighttime stories (in the case of my little).
Others – how exhausting they can be. There is nitpicking and criticism about everything and everyone. There’s a general inability to see the good in anyone or any situation. It’s almost as if they have to be upset about something – or pull something or more often, someONE – to feel good. As if they have to make someone smaller and less valuable to feel better about themselves. It’s tiresome to be around these kinds of people. These are also the ones who tend to be unable to be content – they are always striving for more, more, more…and they are some of the most jaded people I know. Striving for greater is not a bad thing, just as money is not a bad thing; it’s the constant seeking, and the things that are not appreciated, the striving at all cost – that is the problem. It is this that I think makes them so unhappy.
My husband’s mantra is “Any day above ground is a good day.” He means it, too. Click To Tweet. After being in the military and being shot at and having things blown up around him, he is grateful for each day that he is alive and well. In the almost 15 years of knowing each other, he has gradually worn off on me. I am not nearly as positive as he is, but I have learned to be grateful on many days for what I have, instead of hankering after what I don’t have, whether it is time with family, or vacations, or just other things.
I realized he had rubbed off on me when I was visiting family in Jamaica a few short weeks ago. I got the constant question from other people, “Isn’t it hot?” After my return, another person asked, “Didn’t it seem smaller to you?” The questions were so negative and focused on the things that were wrong or worse or – just not positive. Why, yes – it WAS hot. I was, after all, in Jamaica. Was it smaller? Not particularly. I live in the U.S. which is substantially larger than the island of Jamaica. But having grown up on the island and then moving to the U.S., I really didn’t see it as being smaller or larger than it was during my childhood and early adult life. It felt the same, although I readily admit that there were several times that my life flashed before me with the mad driving I saw there. Not sure I could drive there again. 🙂
So there were water lock-offs every evening. That happened when I was growing up too, every summer. Yes, as said before, it was hot…but it was Jamaica in July. What else was it likely to be? In the middle of the heat and the water lock-offs and the mosquitoes, was the joy of being back at my family home, spending time with my sister and her family, and my daddy. It was when I opened my mouth each time and heard the positives coming out that I realized how much my love has influenced the way I think and speak.
My stay in Jamaica was short. It was hard to come back and to say goodbye to my family and to the country of my birth. There were things I had hoped to do that I was unable to do. I didn’t know when I would be able to visit again.
On the other hand, the too-short trip afforded me the chance to reconnect with my family there, as well as several of my high school friends. I got to see that the reports of crime are exaggerated. I got to be back at my family home with my older daughter for the first time in almost 13 years. We were able to go to the beach together, something that I cannot recall doing since she was an infant. I got to see my niece and nephew who my older daughter was very close to. And most of all, I got to see my father before he passed away two weeks after I left.
Was it all the negative things that folks asked me about? Yes. Was it worth it to go? Absolutely. Will I remember the mosquitoes, the heat, the water being off every evening? Probably not. I choose to remember the wonderful things about the visit. And it is a choice. It is a matter of perspectives. A wise lady (one of my sisters) told me many years ago that if you can look at the big picture, it is easier to change how you look at things, and to see them in a more positive light. It is a message I’ve heard many times, from her, from my love, and from others. Finally it has sunk in.
I choose to be content. I choose to think of the good. What are you choosing? If you’ve had an epiphany, I would love for you to share it with me in the comments.