DEAR READERS: It is that time of year again when we pause to give thanks for all of the blessings in our lives. For me, Thanksgiving is always a highlight because it was at this time of year that my daughter was born. In fact, that first year we had Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital. For me as well as so many people across our country, Thanksgiving is a time for family. Many people travel for thousands of miles to be face to face with the ones they love. We break bread, reminisce and otherwise invoke blessings for the gifts we have received and the challenges we have overcome since we were last together.
I appreciate the spirit of Thanksgiving that we collectively choose to engage. A friend recently told me about a Tony Robbins talk he had seen where Robbins challenged everyone to stay positive for seven consecutive days. I love this idea. It requires consciously choosing to see goodness in each moment and not allowing negativity to seep into your mind, words or actions. This is definitely not an easy exercise, but imagine how the quality of your life could change if you stopped yourself whenever a destructive, critical thought entered your mind.
Instead of talking about other people or otherwise deflecting from what’s going on in your life by criticizing others, stay focused on what you need to do. Make the choice to see whatever good is before you. This includes when you are facing something that is frustrating or unfair, difficult or annoying. Ask yourself what you can learn from the situation before you. When you look for wisdom in even the most challenging situation, you can extract goodness from it. You can find the lesson and offer your gratitude for what you learn. This is how you can turn a negative into a positive.
Choosing the positive does not mean you ignore the negative people, places or things that may be impacting your life. Instead, look at them with open eyes, without preconceived ideas about what they mean. You examine them wholeheartedly so you can learn and grow.
With people, particularly at this holiday time of respite, practice seeing the good in your family and in the moment. Build parameters around your interactions with people so you give yourself enough alone time that you can be refreshed when you need to offer compassion, attention and caring for others. Striking a balance between caring for yourself and being thoughtful around others is important. If you do not give yourself enough personal nurturing time, your intention of living in the positive will backfire.
The good news is that you have an opportunity to approach your life in a revolutionary way. Be pleasant. If family members try to test you, don’t get caught in their trap. Instead, look past their complaints to something good about them. You can change the subject when they start critical talk. Ask them about something that they are positively passionate about, like their children, work or a hobby. Sometimes you may have to ask them to stop talking about people. When that occurs, sweeten your request by saying you would much rather hear about something great that’s happening in their lives. Keep changing the subject until you both are happily on the same page. It works!
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)Read more in: Holidays & Celebrations | Mental Health | Friends & Neighbors | Family & Parenting