Sometimes blessings come in unexpected ways. As Thanksgiving draws close, use some of the small annoyances in your life to remind you how lucky you really are.
1. Low Cell Phone Battery
“Man, why didn’t I plug my iPhone in last night?” If you can’t go anywhere without your smart phone, it’s likely you’re often in search of an outlet. When you’re on the verge of losing battery life, take a moment to think of all the things technology can do for you and all the conveniences that can now fit right into your pocket. Ten years ago, you would have a dozen or more gadgets that have now all been replaced with one piece of technology. Next time you lament the seemingly limited battery life on your smart phone, remember how far technology has come.
2. Not Enough Hot Water for the Shower
Did your wife and kids use up all the hot water this morning, leaving none for you? Of course this can be an annoying way to start the day, but this inconvenience can be a reminder of all of the wonderful things that enable you to have access to a luxury like this: indoor plumbing, easy access to a clean source of water, and a myriad of soaps, shampoos, conditioners and exfoliants to make you look and smell presentable are all blessings that make each moment of our lives better. In a world where 780 million people lack access to clean water, a ten minute hot shower is a privilege many do not receive.
3. Stiff Joints in the Morning
Did you wake up this morning with a sore shoulder or a stiff back? Sometimes a bit of discomfort helps remind us that we are alive. The subtle complaints from our bones are the body’s way of telling us to remedy a situation.
Instead of popping a pill to numb the pain, or learning to live with the discomfort, take the minor ache as a clue to listen to your body and do something to change it. The same can be said for indigestion, constipation and skin rashes – these aren’t problems to be masked or thought of as an inevitable part of life, they are instead clues to the inside of our body telling us to make a change. Be thankful for these small warning signs that present themselves far sooner than large health catastrophes.
4. Your Annoying Coworker or Neighbor
If we were always surrounded by people we liked or people who agreed with us, we probably would not have many opportunities to become better people. Conflict helps us to learn about ourselves as well as to learn about others… and if we handle it in the right way, we can become better people as a result.
Is a coworker’s constant habit of interruption an annoyance to you? Use it as an opportunity to reflect on why it may bug you so much. Thinking about the root of the issue can help us shed light on the beliefs we hold and the judgments we make on others – sometimes the habits we dislike in another may be the traits we most dislike about ourselves. Use these small thorns in your side as an opportunity for reflection to learn more about yourself and the people around you.
5. Your Long Commute
Those long car or bus rides to and from work can seem endless. Bumper-to-bumper traffic is never fun and someone else’s fender bender can ruin everyone’s ride home. But you don’t have to look at a long commute as a downer. Uninterrupted time with your own thoughts can be a blessing. When your mind is not consumed with what’s on your computer screen, your TV screen or messages popping up on your phone, you can decompress. Give yourself specific activities to do on your drive home to pass the time and also get in touch with yourself – instead of the usual mindless chatter than runs through all our brains. Practice deep breathing, make lists of your favorite meals or dream vacations. Think about how you would really like to spend your time if money and other responsibilities were not a concern.
Allowing yourself time to dedicate to creative thinking and getting in touch with yourself helps you unwind from a long day and quiets the monkey chatter in your brain. Thinking creatively, even by making up stories or daydreaming, helps form connections in the brain, offers stress relief and engages parts of our brains we don’t use when we are consuming content from TV, computers, phones and books. Take the opportunity of uninterrupted time with yourself to put your brain to good use!