Scrooge or Cratchit: It’s your choice everyday
As part of my emotional and stress detox, I’ve been ending my days by writing in my journal five things that happened that day that I am grateful for. It is by no means a new concept, but I actually wonder why more people don’t do it. My husband and I have been expressing gratitude for having each other in our lives, every night for over four years now. It is a great way to reconnect at the end of the day and remind ourselves that, no matter what, our relationship is the most important thing in the world to us. Now, I extend that outlook on my entire day. Ya, crap happens. Ya, it will happen almost every day. But if you go to bed thinking about that, it will just surround your whole mind and energy in that blackness. How can you expect to have a sound sleep and wake up the next day with a good feeling? You really can’t.
I know, it’s hard. We get so caught up in the drama of our lives! It’s so easy to focus on the crap. But does that mean that it is okay to focus on it? Absolutely not. Since I’ve been doing the gratefulness exercise, I notice a lot more of the resistance the people around me are having to it. Even when my day isn’t going so well, if someone asks me how I am, I’ve chosen to answer, ‘Great!’. A lot of people start answering my statement with myriads of their own problems. Almost as if they are trying to douse the light of my happiness. I’m not perfect either, I still give in to those lower vibrations occasionally, but I feel it happening less and less.
I’ll tell you a story, that happened to me only a few days ago. I’ve had to take a part time position in retail at the mall this Christmas season. The moods of people vary greatly during this time of year. From the overjoyed and bubbly, to the overwhelmed and snippy. An older man came up to our cart and when the other woman working approached him, asking if she could help him.
“I don’t want nothing!” He scowled. Obvious grammatical error aside, the waves of negativity were just rolling off of him. I don’t know what possessed me, but I turned to him and replied,
“Oh, just here for the free smiles, eh?” and flashed him the biggest smile he’d probably seen in years.
“No, no. I don’t even want those neither. I don’t want anything from anybody. I’ve seen real people and they aren’t worth it. When you get to be my age, you won’t be smiling anymore! I guarantee you!” Though I was completely taken aback by the negativity, my years of improvisational skills didn’t fail me now.
“Well, my grandmother smiled right up until the day she died and I will be, too.” I said, matter of factly.
“Oh ya.” He said, sensing the challenge. “Did your grandmother live through a war?”
“Yes sir, she actually went to work in an artillery factory.” I replied.
“Well, I had those things come at me in the war!” By this point, he was much less belligerent but still trying to make his point.
“Well, it’s because of my grandmother that you had something to fight back with.” I smiled. Then, the oddest thing happened. The old man just started laughing and smiling, with the sound of genuine amusement at the edges. He tipped his cane to me, turned and left. The woman I was working with was amazed. She couldn’t believe I got him to leave with a smile, after such a rocky beginning. As many of us do, she started making excuses for the man. Like, how some people have just seen things in their lives that they just can’t get over. Honestly, I don’t fully buy that. Yes, atrocities such as war, rape and abuse are things that can heavily affect someone. Yes, you are allowed to be upset, have rage towards it and be haunted by it. I hope never to be visited by war in my lifetime and I am beyond grateful to all the men and women who stood up for our country and our allies in their time of need. But does that mean you take one experience and allow it to jade your entire outlook on life, for the rest of your days? Really, it’s your choice.
I am reminded of Viktor Frankl. He was a psychologist who was imprisoned in a concentration camp during the war. He wrote about the state of the prisoners in the camp, his observations and the like. His ultimate conclusion was that even in times of great suffering, life still has meaning and even the suffering itself has meaning.
“A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way—an honorable way—in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.” – Viktor Frankl
So, Viktor Frankl took this dehumanizing experience and found the good in it, inspiring all those around him. In my opinion, good choice. Cratchit-grade, in fact! Meanwhile, the random old veteran that I’ve met has chosen to focus on the worst part of his life and transpose it onto the entire population. He goes around looking for people to bring down to his level and quash the light around him. In my opinion, a very bad, Scrooge-rated choice.
At the end of my day, one of my gratitudes was: The chance to make an old, war veteran smile and maybe have a better day because of me.
Coming into the Christmas season and the new year, take a real look at where your head is at the end of the day. Do you need to make a shift? I say, join team Cratchit!
Posted on December 17, 2012, in Experiences, Inspiration, musings, Opinion and tagged Bob Cratchit, choices, Christmas, emotional detox, gratitude, positivity, Scrooge, Stress, Viktor Frankl. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.