As a woman who has traveled the world, I am in awe of joy I find when I travel to third-world countries. I’ve stayed in mud huts in Kenya, where the bird droppings end up on your bedding throughout the day. The shower sprinkles water as you try to wash your entire body in freezing water, and your oven is a hole in the ground that cooks your food from the sun. When I looked around at the Kenyans, I saw nothing but joy in their faces. They carried themselves with gratitude that overflowed into every area of their lives. I learned gratitude is something we must choose.
During my initial hours in Kenya, I found myself looking at all the obstacles. No hot water, counting the ways bacteria could attack my body with some illness similar to Ebola, how many animals could enter into my camp and kill our team. See, our brains are programed to look at the negatives instead of the positive. Clinical studies show that most of our daily thoughts will be negative. We must train ourselves to choose to find the good in the situation. The Kenyans taught me not to compare my life with others. To choose to be thankful every hour of every day, to find something to be able to praise.
Finding the good in the situation is not always easy. Thankfully, I have a best friend who has taught me to “trust the process.” In order to become who we are designed to be and step into all that God (however you relate God in your life) has for us, we are required to go through disappointments that can often leave us feeling depleted, devastated, and shattered. These dark times allow us to experience a deeper level of gratitude for the good times. The bad times give us a perspective for the good. I’ve recently experienced a devastating change in my personal life. I’ve started every day with finding something to praise. This has allowed me to shift my perspective.
During this Thanksgiving season, I encourage you to remember how privileged we are to be health-care providers. We have unique skills that can be used to serve others. The ability to connect, educate, and play an essential role in the assessment of the patient to codiagnose disease in its earliest stages is remarkable. You are remarkable, even when you get stuck comparing yourself to someone else during this holiday season.
The best thing that has helped me to stay grateful, even when the biggest of obstacles or disappointments arise, is to give. This season is a great time to reflect on all that we have and to share our blessings with others. I encourage you to be a part of Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday encourages people to donate their time, goods or services. For more information visit the website givingtuesday.org!