It’s that time of year again to reflect on the many blessings received in the last twelve months.
As many know, it’s been a big year for my family: Justin quit a job that was robbing him of his health and happiness, we spent time in several different cities (and countries), and we recently announced that we are expecting our first child in May!
I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have a relatively stress-free life (not to say there aren’t occasional down moments). As I type this though, I’m reminded at how infrequently I exude that happy, stress-free attitude.
I work in a client-facing role, which subjects me to many unhappy people, and it’s true that after a while it does start to wear on you – only hearing the negative. And let’s face it, we all know no one is calling up their favorite companies to give thanks and gratitude. This mere fact has made me pretty irritable (well, and hormones) lately, and I have spiraled down a negative tunnel of only seeing the bad. This negative mindset has naturally transferred to my personal life as well. I find myself “being extra judgey” about people and scenarios that I usually wouldn’t think twice about. And I complain. A lot.
I have become a disappointment to myself because when I take a snapshot of my life, I know I have it pretty good. I have a great support system, a clean house, plenty of food (okay, too much food as of late – hello gluttony), a job and coworkers I enjoy waking up for every day, and my family is growing.
So what’s the problem? My mindset.
And I believe this is the problem most people have.
Have we become so technologically advanced and materially focused that we have lost sight of what truly matters? Do we just have too much and expect too much that we miss the most important gifts we have, like our health and the ability to be bored enough to complain about the unimportant? I believe so. And it’s no coincidence that there have been a plethora of studies on this subject in recent years.
We, as an advanced society, have become so comfortable that we allow sins like greed, jealousy, materialism, and competition to consume us to the point of misery. Did anyone see the statistics regarding depression in young people skyrocketing since the age of social media? I strongly support the evidence that we are overstimulated with the lives people portray on the internet. I’m guilty of seeing pages and thinking, “wow, they sure do have ample time to travel to beautiful places – how do they afford that?” Why do I care? I’m not even interested in jet setting across the globe all the time. I’m a total homebody and that lifestyle doesn’t even suit my desires. Yet, I occasionally have those thoughts.
Because it’s my face every day because I choose to put social media at the forefront of my life. Now, I’m old enough to acknowledge my thoughts and correct myself. I am also old enough that social networking was not NEARLY as prevalent in my adolescent and teenage years. That being said, it’s easy for me as a busy adult with important responsibilities to catch my negative thoughts and move on. But it’s not that easy for young, developing brains. Of course the (usually feigned) portrayal of perfect lives, bodies, and jobs on Instagram is going to trick young people whose brains aren’t fully developed.
My point is, we should all be grateful that our lives are so wonderful that we have the energy to focus on trivial things and make comparisons.
My goal for 2019 is to become more aware of my negativity and retrain my brain to think in gratitude and graciousness. I owe it to myself, I owe it to my coworkers, and I owe it to my child to be a happy mommy and not a miserable one.
I encourage everyone to stop and rethink before you wallow in misery or envy of a social media post. We all know that everyone only posts the good, never the ugly truth. Heck, I’m guilty of it – you all only see bits of my life that are together. When I’m dressed and ready, the days my house is clean. That’s not my reality every day, but it certainly makes for a prettier picture in a grid of tiny squares.
Everyone has their blessings and their crosses to bear. It’s up to you how you manage your thoughts and emotions about each. Don’t get on your high horse when things are going well and don’t be afraid to share your down times when they come. After all, we’re all flawed humans.
And from a biblical standpoint, we were not put on this earth to achieve material and social greatness, but to achieve spiritual greatness and to help and understand others.
Trust me, I’m still working on the latter.
Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!