I am, as much as I hate to admit it, a fairly negative person. A “poo-pooer”, if you will. Much of my life up until the past few years felt monochromatic, pointless at times and generally unfulfilling. Working a 9-5 job, spending what little money I had on things that I felt no connection to and family troubles kept me adequately distracted from the positive aspects of my life.
As an insecure person, I felt I had more to say if I had something negative to share. Being positive in social situations is boring, right? I could use my distaste for something as an opportunity to be snarky and amusing at bars. The scary thing is, it kind of works. Folks chuckle at your commentary and you keep it up to keep the accolades a-comin’, In time, that sort of attitude starts to chisel away at you. Negativity is a tough habit to break. You begin to find comfort in those rough words. They dismiss the things you don’t understand, the things you are fearful of, the things you simply do not like. Talking trash makes easy work of existing because you’ve given yourself a way to avoid learning to navigate through things that are challenging. Negativity is a coward’s warm blanket. One that, if you are not careful, can smother you.
It never occurred to me that I was behaving cowardly. In social situations, I’d blurt out the first thing that came to mind, usually something unpleasant, with no filter on. It was alienating, for sure. I felt myself floating adrift from my friends and loved ones and that only made matters worse. About 8 years ago, I hit a wall. I had allowed my poor frame of mind to quite literally take over my life and it wrecked my relationships with a couple of folks that meant a lot to me at the time. Ashamed, but too stubborn to try and fix myself, I ran away to the city to start anew.
New York City taught me something of value that I am only now just realizing. Folks there don’t have time for things that make them feed bad, that includes people. You don’t make or keep friends for long there when you’ve got a bad attitude. I learned that focusing energy on things that made you feel good actually had the power to make you better in attitude, and eventually in spirit too. I’m thankful for the people there for showing me no quarter where matters of shit-talking and negativity are concerned. We should all aspire to be less tolerant of bad attitudes.
Things are a little different now that I’m farming. I wake up every day and venture to the outbuildings to let out the critters, attend to their needs and milk the goats. There’s not a day that has gone by when I don’t laugh or smile big or well up with love during that process of caring for our livestock. Watching the dogs play mirror through the paddock fence, or that first 30 seconds after I open the door to the coop and all 80 of our chickens flow out of the door like some sort of spastic, noisy river. It gets me right in the heart. It’s so undeniably good and I feel the most crystalline gratitude in those moments. I find myself looking for them everywhere and as often as I can.
I won’t lie to you, though. I still catch myself focusing on the downside to everything on a daily basis. It’s an ongoing battle. What helps is remembering how good I’ve got it. We can feed all of the creatures under our care, pay for vet bills, and feed ourselves too for that matter. I make a very modest living doing what I love. I can’t afford to buy a new car or new gadgets every year like modern folks are accustomed to, but I do not find myself wanting and that is something to be very grateful for. I have a man who loves me and is willing to take personal risks to be with me. There are people in the world who trust me with things that are precious to them, like their land and their home and their memories. None of these things are small or to be taken lightly. Is there anything more humbling than the gift of other people’s faith in you?
It’s important to keep reminding yourself of all of the good surrounding you from time-to-time. It’s not always an easy task but the alternative will eat away at the soul. It’s something I can attest to personally. If you don’t make it a point to seek out those things that make you feel big inside you might just find yourself wishing at the end of your time that you had appreciated all the beauty in your life when you had the chance.
So what is that thing that makes you feel gratitude? Think on it and share if you would like. But most importantly, think on it.