Day #31: Seeing the Good

Better a meal of greens with love
than a plump calf with hate.
Proverbs 15:17

In my previous job, when I worked with teenagers, people would sometimes look at me with sympathy and say, “That must be so hard.” But the teenagers I worked with were constantly astounding me. One summer, I took them to a sweltering, weed-infested community garden on the West Side of Chicago where they were supposed to do yard work… but no one had brought shovels. When I told the kids to wait until the shovels arrived, they instead began removing the thistles by placing their sneakers on either side of the plant and jumping up, hard. They made a game of it. They found a way to see the best in a field of thistles with no gloves or shovels.

Even though I’m vegetarian, I love this sentiment from Proverbs (and am lukewarm on salads, in general). It’s not about what you’re having for lunch, it’s about scanning the table until you see something beautiful. Resilient people have a knack for being in highly stressful situations and pointing out the one joyful thing in that place. Resilient people choose to see the good, not because they are blind optimists, but because the good is what will give them energy to get to the next day.

Takeaway: See the good. When you catch yourself complaining, turn your attention to whatever small good thing is nearby: a plant growing under fluorescent light; the giggling infant at the DMV; the first daffodil of the spring while you’re sitting in traffic. Practice reframing the day, not out of naïve optimism, but because anger is exhausting. You only have a finite amount of energy; why waste it on all the things that make you unhappy?

 

 

Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).

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