By Tori Taylor, October 25 2019 —
Toss out self-pity and make room for gratitude. Spending time feeling sorry for yourself is almost always a waste. I am a firm believer in feeling your feelings for a healthy amount of time. When life takes a dump directly in your path it is important to acknowledge the inconvenience, for sure. The going is not always easy. In fact, the older we get the more responsibilities we take on and this inevitably leads to stress that is hard to handle. But focusing on the negatives that accompany growing up is no way to live your life. No matter the size of the dump — you can always shovel that poo out of your way and carry on with stronger arms for the next mess that comes at you.
It is easy to complain about things. It requires more mental strength to look past difficulties in your life and find the silver-linings. But it is worth it and will build your character for the better.
Being an adult student with a full-time life outside of school is hard. Living on a student budget takes skill — one I’m not sure I have yet. Recently I had an experience that gave me the perfect opportunity to find positivity in a crappy circumstance.
My car stopped driving a couple weeks ago. The first big snowfall had me cranky and irritable. I was idling downtown in my car, waiting for the courage to get out and tromp through fifty feet of wet snow — mentally amping myself up because I hate the cold. Then my car stopped. It started shaking, the engine light went on and it shut down. My brain fried out. I slowly pulled the keys out of the ignition and walked into the nearby Tim Hortons. I asked for permission to use their bathroom and waited around ten minutes for the key. Once the door was locked behind me, I decided it felt right to burst into tears and full-body sob.
First example of gratitude. I am grateful for friends that pick you up from fast-food restrooms on short notice. These are friends to keep forever.
I spent too much money setting up AMA and had my car towed to an auto body shop the next day. After setting up my rental car for the week, I was feeling a bit better because I could at least get to and from work, school and home.
Two more reasons to be grateful.
I am grateful for a job that pays for AMA and Enterprise Rentals.
I am grateful I am over 25 and able to rent a car. Being old AF has its perks.
Two days after my car stopped running the mechanic called me. I left my philosophy class to answer the call and crossed my fingers that I wasn’t about to get awful bank account-shattering news. The mechanic explained that my car didn’t appear to have anything wrong with it. He said that he topped it up with ten dollars in gas and it was now driving just fine. My brain halted and I said, “Excuse me?”
Yes. I had heard him right. I’d run out of gas. I’d gone into stress overload and created a mountain out of a molehill. I had my car towed from downtown to the north west of Calgary, left it at an auto body shop for two days and rented a car because I hadn’t noticed the zero kilometres of gas flashing in front of my face. The worst part of this story is that I’d been parked at an ESSO. I had my car towed from an ESSO to a mechanic across the city because it ran out of gas.
A moment to feel more gratitude.
I am grateful that it only cost me $388 ($260 for AMA, $88 in service fees and $40 in gas) to fill up my tank instead of a couple thousand dollars to replace a transmission.
I had to look a bit harder to find that silver-lining.
Finding the positives in my not-so-positive recent experience gave me the chance to avoid wallowing in self-pity and move forward. I have great friends that helped me out and I’m grateful that I didn’t have to get a new car. That would have been a lot more expensive and would have resulted in several other bathroom sobbing sessions, for sure.
Sometimes it is difficult to feel grateful when bad things happen. It can be a good idea to keep a journal where you write down the positives. If you’re wanting to shift your way of thinking into a more positive one — you can try writing down a few good things every night before bed. Even if your list is small or seems insignificant, you are still building the habit of consciously noticing gratitudes over negativity.
Make an effort to thank people out loud. Make an effort to thank yourself out loud — you can do it privately, of course. Try being thankful with audible or written words as a way of committing. This becomes an easier skill the more you practice. It is up to you whether you want to focus on looking down or looking up. It is your life and nothing is ever perfect. Life can give you lemons. Sometimes life gives you the most rotten lemons and you can’t make any sort of lemonade with them at all. But your contribution to the compost — one mushy lemon added into a bucket of other rotting foods — might just be the soil enrichment that caters to your next backyard-dandelion. So be grateful. It just feels better than constantly complaining.