“There’s nothing I don’t love about my life. It’s a struggle, but that’s why they call it life” – Dr. Maya Angelou.
For me, there is so much power in that statement that it has pushed me toward an understanding of the control I have over my life. I wish more people realized that they create either their own joy or their own misery.
We all have that friend who no matter what day it is, or what has happened, something is wrong. One of my sister-friends is that friend in my life. She is constantly complaining about one thing or another. She never seems to be in a good mood. Over the years, I’ve tried to be a supportive friend by providing some encouragement and positive energy.
Recently, we were speaking and I was my usual optimistic self. She questioned whether it was genuine or an act. The fact that she even asked let me know that she didn’t know me that well despite our years of friendship. It also showed me that she did not realize her choices.
“Sure, I have problems and issues, but I choose not to focus on those and instead to focus on the things that are going well in my life,” I said. I went onto explain that whenever I am feeling bad, I practice the act of listing the things I’m grateful for either in my mind or by writing them down. It is a technique I acquired during an extended depressive state and one that works without fail.
By focusing on gratitude I can’t help, but to change the way I feel about a particular (temporary!) circumstance. And, if I need more, I do something that makes me happy, like listen to my favorite song, dance or call my mom. Once I realized I had the power over my own feelings and emotions, it’s rare that I have a bad day. The revelation of my personal power over my spirit was one of the best “aha” moments I have ever had.
As you can imagine, she wasn’t buying what I was selling. You’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) just how many people would rather be miserable than to accept that they are in control of their own lives. Outwardly, you would never know that I was having difficulties in almost every aspect of my life last year. Instead, I chose to find my joy in every circumstance and it made it so much easier.
I challenged my sister-friend to do the exercise of writing down the things that she is grateful for the next time she’s feeling down. I’m not sure if she will do it, but you definitely should give it a try. Instead of being miserable, create your joy.
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Nathan’s book INSPIRATION: Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World is available now.