Amazing Restraint

If you have a PC, have you ever looked at the “properties” section of your C drive? It will have a wonderful two-slice pie chart that indicates how much memory you have used and how much memory is available. If you haven’t saved a lot of files and have only used a little bit of memory, the pie slice will be but a sliver, and the vast majority of the pie will be the memory you have available to use.

Fotolia_59374652_Subscription_Monthly_MAlternatively, let’s say that you are getting ready to enjoy a piece of pie. You slice a teeny little sliver and leave the rest of the pie intact. This is how I see what happens on the news. The vast majority of people are kind towards their neighbors, live their lives in peace and take care of themselves and their families while a very small number of folks who act out get all of the press. Why is it that we focus on the tiny sliver of stuff that appears to be going wrong rather than put the attention on the biggest piece of the pie – all that is going well?

For example, there are dozens of Arab-Israeli peace projects going on right now – some date back to the 1940’s. Do we ever hear of them?   I say not often enough. However, what might happen if we put some real attention on the peacemakers? What might it be like if we elected to not look at the train wrecks but look at the gloriously moving trains instead? I truly enjoy acknowledging what is going right. By focusing on that, my mood improves, I smile more and I feel lighter and happier.

When I was clinically depressed and doing a lot of driving to and from work, I was all too focused on my abject misery. Yet, on many days I thought about all of the workers who helped create the freeways that I took for granted. Each second I would speed along, trusting that the road would be right there in front of me to help me get to work, or to get home. And for that, and the men who created them, I was grateful. That gratitude for the simplest things helped me weather my personal storm.

Things are really, really working well among us – in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities. How can I say this with such certainty? It occurred to me the other day that we have amazing restraint. Think about it. There are words that you can say to someone you love that could break their heart. You know their vulnerabilities and sensitivities, and you choose to protect and love them rather than hurt them. Our amazing restraint is much more common than we know. And for that, I am grateful.

It could be the most wonderful exercise to stretch your imagination in order to derive gratitude from the small things that we typically ignore. Incorporating this new habit can help you look at your challenges with renewed intention and a joyful spirit. We are more loving and kind than mean and hurtful. By focusing on the small victories, we can change how we see the world, and change our personal world in the process.

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