As a Brit, I’m enamored with Thanksgiving. I love the American tradition that rolls around every November when people schedule their OOOs, overeat, and contemplate—at least for a day—what they are grateful for. And I get it; it’s all about appreciating good health, friends, family, frozen yogurt—you know, the all-important blessings that truly deserve our gratitude.
But what about the other stuff? The stuff that’s less easy to talk about, or the parts of our lives we fail to see clearly because they hurt or trouble us? Our misfortunes can also be great sources of gratitude if we let them be.
Although this list might be a bit unusual, I will be thankful for the following this week:
I’m not a crier, but if there is a time I get emotional because I miss my dad, it’s during the holidays. My parents divorced when I was a kid, and I spent most Christmas holidays with my dad, eating roast meat and playing scrabble. I have a pang of envy whenever I see people my age or older with their fathers now. I also really miss my closest friends who live in other parts of the world. But I’ve come to realize that I’m very lucky to have had such loving relationships that cause separation to be so hard.
… even if it’s just at a red light or in line at the grocery store. When I have to wait for something for a minute or two, I’ve trained myself to consider it a mental ping to take a few meditative breaths. Throughout the day, you will notice how often it happens, and you’ll (hopefully) start to find it calming versus frustrating. Now I’m happy when there are two people in front of me at the bank! Inhale, exhale, my friend.
Our mistakes can be some of our greatest teachers (think: indulging a little too much at Friendsgiving, dating a person you knew would let you down, taking that lame job you only stuck out for six months). Mistakes are the world’s best course correction, and they inspire others, because no one's perfect! Whenever you feel bad about a mistake, remember the errors that other people have made too. No one is an exception here. You’ll feel better in an instant.
Totally surprising, right? But think about it for a second. Bills just represent the fact that someone has provided you with something—a cell-phone connection, tax advice, some dental care—believing that you will pay them back. Trust is a beautiful thing.
Haters gonna hate. Critics just mean you are doing something worth criticizing. It means you are doing something. Your level of success is in direct relationship to the level of criticism you receive. So give a little thanks to those naysayers.
Being bored is a total luxury. Stick with me here. Think of all of the single parents running on no sleep or students juggling multiple jobs just to stay afloat. I bet they’d love to experience just a little bit of boredom.
7. A (Minor) Illness
There's nothing like a problem with our health to kick us into sharp perspective mode in a snap. My friend was recently at the hospital with her daughter, who had a high fever. It turned out to be nothing, but I’ve never seen her so happy or relieved for health.
There has never been a better time in history to be alive. Think of all of the opportunities that modern technology has given us: WiFi, Wordpress, YouTube, IVF, Seamless, Uber, you name it. As we head into 2017, know that being alive in this era is the opportunity of a lifetime.
Death is life’s greatest equalizer. As the old saying goes, “Death has a 100-percent success rate.” This makes me feel more courageous when I make any important decision. Because I am aware of how fleeting life is, I want to make decisions based on creativity and love, not fear. Because life is temporary, it’s so much more important. How life affirming is that? You’ll enjoy your special day with loved ones even more when you remember this.
10. Unfair Success
We all know a “lucky” person who gets all the breaks. They are in the right place at the right time. They get promoted young, engaged first, and their jeans fit the same before and after the holidays. Whatever it is, know that what someone else has done, you can too! It’s just proof of what’s possible for all of us.
11. Your Irritating Cousin/Uncle/In-Law
A bit like boredom, irritation is actually a privilege. I love what Seth Godin says about it: “People in true distress are never irritated. Someone who is hungry or drowning or fleeing doesn't become irritated… Irritation clouds our judgment, frustrates our relationships, and gets our priorities all wrong.” If you're feeling irritated by your family this holiday, remind yourself of how fortunate you actually are.
12. Unaccomplished Dreams
Not all of our desires can manifest or arrive at once for us. Success is a moving target, as each new year naturally brings new goals and aspirations. Life is meant to be like this. We are here for the purpose of expansion. Imagine if everything you ever wanted landed in your lap right now. What then? Everyone needs something to look forward to and work toward.
What can you put through a sharper, brighter filter this week?
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!