holding on to gratitude

Your life script may not be within your own control, but the attitude you exhibit is, says Carole Spiers

Time flies by so fast that it is hard to appreciate that we are already well into 2022. You have many things to be thankful for over the last twelve months but, like the rest of us, you have also had your challenges.

Maybe your ‘life script’ did not turn out as you would have liked – but then, life often throws up unexpected challenges to be overcome, such as health issues or relationship problems. That is the order of our lives and with a new year ahead of us, it is worth remembering to be grateful for what we do have – our family, our friends, our work and all those special moments in our lives.

Of course, it is easy to feel sorry for ourselves when things go wrong. Maybe you didn’t get that promotion you wanted, or you lost a personal relationship. Your health may have deteriorated. Such issues are often tough calls to handle, particularly if they come together.

But that doesn’t really help us to move on. In order to do that, we need to take full responsibility for what is in, and out, of our control. There is no point in wasting time, energy or even money on that over which you have no control. However, there is a point in accepting a particular situation as it stands and seeing how you can amend your life script to take account of it. Your life script may not be within your own control, but the attitude you exhibit in your approach to the situations you encounter is within your determination and can positively influence outcomes in your favour.

Making a Difference

I used to work as a volunteer at a charity for the homeless in the UK called CRISIS, and on Christmas day I would go to a large building in London, together with other volunteers, to sit and talk with those who were sleeping rough in the streets of London – having been excluded from family and friends for a variety of reasons, and then become dependent on handouts from a charity. 

I met with people, young and old, all of whom had no possessions, no money and no job. Working with CRISIS over many years taught me so much. When the homeless came together on Christmas day, they were given a warm, soft mattress on which to sleep, hot food to eat and warm clothes to keep out the cold and snow.

Alex, a middle-aged man, was one such person with whom I sat all those years ago. I remember him saying to me that he was filled with such warmth and gratitude towards all those who helped, listened and who were just there for him during those hard times. Alex showed me that he wasn’t angry over what he didn’t have, but he was so grateful for the kindness he received that day we talked. Many years have gone since then, but even now, I remember Alex, and his face, as if it were only yesterday.

So, I ask you, in looking back over the year so far, what is it for which you should be grateful? If things did not go as planned, what learning came out of the experience that you can take with you on your life’s journey?

I don’t know what your special moments have been. I don’t know who is special to you. But I do know that it is good to reflect on this for the coming year.

Let me end with words from AA Milne’s children’s story, ‘Winnie the Pooh’: “Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”

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Carole Spiers FISMA, FPSA, MIHPE is the Chair of the International Stress Management Association (ISMAUK) and founder of International Stress Awareness Week. She is an acknowledged authority on corporate stress and CEO of the Carole Spiers Group (London ... (Read More)

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