Yesterday was a great day. It was Thanksgiving Day. As great of a holiday as it was, I wasn't feeling that chipper. I had three unmentionable items brought to my attention at the beginning of the day (not to mention I woke up early to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade that had some of the most deplorable musical performances) that brought my spirit down.
As I was driving, I kept telling myself that at least I wasn't certain people who's lives were worse off than mine (i.e. the homeless man I saw on the street). I think it is sometimes a good idea to make a comparison with other people in order to gain perspective - it's worked for me a number of times. This time, however, it wasn't helping so much. But then I remembered what I wrote in a recent blog, and that is to choose your happiness. So I kept telling myself that I chose happiness over sulking. Rest assured, that option is much better.
From there, my day began looking much brighter. Sure, it's hard to put a smile on your face when things aren't going well. The holidays have been rough for me and my family for about the past decade and it's been a struggle for me to keep from getting too depressed. No, life isn't fair, but life wasn't built on a scale of fairness. It was built on a scale of outcomes. One of those outcomes - the most important one - is how I react to life.
As anyone should know, life offers us plenty of things to complain about. I don't need to provide a list of examples. Just think on your own life and you'll understand where I'm coming from. So, among the complaints lives our thanks. But how lively is it?
Being thankful or grateful (whichever word you prefer) can become a stagnant or dead idea when you're under the weight of complaints. Half full or half empty. Either way, you're halfway there. You can rise to the top or sink to the bottom.
One way to always see the glass half full is through friendships. Whether they're relatives or just pals made over time, making friends is the single most important task in life. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. It isn't just your soul at stake in that regard, but this ideal ensures your life will flourish.
My parents had plenty of people at their house on Thanksgiving Day - family, neighbors and friends. My cousin Misty was there (along with her husband, David). As we talked in the kitchen, I thought about the food and desserts for a moment, but then I looked at her - really looked at her - and told myself, "There is no substitute for people."
People make life. Situations can alter life. Situations can make things terrible or really good. But people...actually, friendships create the equilibrium. When things are bad, relationships make it feel less so. When things are good, relationships ensure you receive the most joy out of the situation. There is no substitute for people. The turkey can be dry. The dressing can suck. But, by God, if there is people, it's OK. If there are friends around, the taste isn't as bad as it could be. Nothing is as bad as it could be.
Your life may stink currently. Find a friend and vent. And from there, be grateful you have that friend. Then from there, begin to establish more friends. Make friends and your life will become exponentially happier. Making friends requires one thing - being a friend.
If you're wondering how to rise above the negativity of your complaints (and don't feel bad for having them - we all do), start being thankful. Even if the only thing you have to be thankful for is a few friends. Keep in mind, that's life's most vital connection to happiness.