How often have you gone through a difficult situation and later looked back with the realization that, while difficult at the time, it ended up being something you’re thankful for? Alternately, have you ever been thankful for something difficult that’s happened to someone else?
An example of this would be my dad. He was in the army during the Korean War and, after basic training, units were alternately being shipped to Korea or Germany. His unit was scheduled to go to Korea, but he got kidney stones and ended up staying behind until he recovered. He was then transferred to a unit that was headed to Germany. I’m sure this was no picnic at the time, but I can truly say I’m thankful that he got kidney stones – not to wish him pain or difficulty, but because it sent him to Germany instead of the active conflict in Korea. We don’t know what would’ve happened there but, instead, he came back safe & sound.
The way we respond to circumstances is directly related to our experiences and our point of view. While we can’t change what’s happened in the past, we can all work on changing our point of view. Our mental outlook. Our perception of a situation. We can actually find the positive in any situation if we simply learn how to look for it.
Consider this photograph of an incoming storm.
In the midst of a situation, we can rarely see the whole picture. Instead, we usually focus on one small part. The question we need to ask ourselves is: which part are we going to focus on? In the picture above, I can either focus on
the sun – OR – the storm.
Both are a part of the same picture, but one definitely has a brighter outlook than the other.
It’s all a matter of reframing your mind. Choosing which part of the picture you’re going to look at. It doesn’t come naturally for most people – it’s a skill that must be learned; and the more you practice it, the more it becomes your default way of thinking.
How to reframe your situation:
- Be thankful for what didn’t happen – it could always be worse.
Example: A college-age girl told this to her parents: “I met a guy at a bar; one thing led to another & I got pregnant. His probation is over in a year & he’ll start looking for a job when he’s out of rehab. We’re thinking of getting married, but we can’t afford a place, so we’re moving in with you.” She then told them, “None of that is true. I actually got a D on my chemistry exam, but I wanted to show you that it could’ve been a lot worse!”
- Practice pre-framing
Change your mental outlook on things that you don’t like, don’t want to do, or don’t appeal to you – instead of “having” to go do something, you “get” to go do it. Instead of something being hard, embrace the challenge. Rather than passively receiving a circumstance based on your natural responses, actively reframe it. Outlook determines outcome.
- Look for the good
Remember the hummingbird and the vulture: the hummingbird always finds sweet nectar because that’s what he looks for. The vulture always finds the dead carcass because that’s what he seeks. You will find what you look for. If you want to see the bad, the negative, or the challenges, that’s what you’ll find. If you want to see the good, the positive, or the opportunities, you’ll find that instead.
*Ideas, points & examples adapted from Greg Groeschel’s Winning the War in Your Mind, Part 3 “Defeat Your Negative Thoughts”
*Image by <a href=”https://pixabay.com/users/pexels-2286921/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=1867317″>Pexels</a> from <a href=”https://pixabay.com//?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=1867317″>Pixabay</a>