When life gets to be too much, be thankful

Learning to turn complaints into gratitudes

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Last night I was taking a huge amount of pity on myself.  I was entering my 5th hour of driving around the state of South Carolina from home to work to grad classes and home again.  I was writing a social media post in my head about missing my two year old: Another day lost not doing what I love most, parenting my child.  Another day lost where I see him only in a single text message from my husband.  Another day lost when the only evidence I see of him growing and learning is in whatever anecdote my husband remembers to tell me when I get home at 9:45pm.  Another day lost when my son doesn't feel my love.  Another day spent in the company of other people's children and not my own.  

And then, as I usually do when I'm driving the 1.5 hrs from class to home or the 1.25 hours from home to work, I pulled up my TED app and asked it to surprise me with a story.  The story that came to me was about a 19 year old girl, Doaa,  who survived being stranded at sea for more than 4 days when her fiance' convinced her to seek refuge from Syria to Egypt across the Mediterranean Sea to Sweden.  Doaa longed to go to university in Sweden.  And when her boat was brutally attacked and subsequently sank, hundreds of people died in the waters off the coast of Italy.  Doaa found a life ring in the dark and cool waters and mothers began handing their infants and toddlers to Doaa with their last bit of strength.  Doaa held babies tight as she watched their parents drift away into the sea, their last prayers about hoping Doaa could save their precious child's life.   It was much more emotional than what I retell here and I ask that you have the strength and the courage to listen to the 20 minute retelling of those 4 days.

Soon, my thoughts turned to Another day where I'm thankful my son gets to bond tightly to his father, my husband.  Another day that I'm thankful my son doesn't have to worry where I am; he knows I'll show up again the next day.  Another day I'm thankful  for technology that allows me to see a picture of my son's afternoon playing in a mud puddle with his toy dump truck.  Another day that I'm thankful I get to touch the lives of more than just my child.  Another day that I am thankful I can so easily continue my education in the evenings with the support of my job and my family.  

How easy it is to spend my thoughts pitying my situation rather than acknowledging the flipside of the situation.  A little empathy, a little time spent listening and not spent in selfish headspace, brings me to a much better place.   

[Optional] Synthesize a little! What's one take away or insight to leave people with?

When frustrated, approach your complaint from another point of view. Perhaps you'll see that what frustrates you is something that you should actually be thankful for.


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Photo of Erin Quinn

There's something about the shifts, hey? The right message came at the right time for you. It might be interesting to notice when shifts happen for people. Why?? What? How???

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