Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Look on the Bright Side


One of my kids was born a pessimist. He’s an amazing kid, really. He is the first to apologize when he’s done something wrong, he’s compassionate, and he has a smile that lights up a room. But he constantly views the world through dark and murky glasses. On a regular basis he feels slighted…gypped…like the world is out to get him. So my job as his mother is to help him see the bright side. When his wallet was lost for a day with all his earthly wealth inside he was instantly consumed with fear and panic. His every moment was focused on the loss of his wallet and the fact that some horrible person must have stolen it from him when he wasn’t looking. So when we found it clean and crisp in the dryer with all the money intact was he happy and relieved to have it returned? Of course not. He complained that his dollars were now too crispy to be used. And so it goes, his serving is smaller, his homework is harder, his life is too complicated (must have been that ONE chore he had to do today) and so on. I find myself spending lots of time pointing out the good in all of his bad so he can see that there is balance to life. That there is always something good, no matter how small, that can be found in our circumstances.

Most of the frugal people I meet don’t just all of the sudden choose to lead a frugal lifestyle. Many have found themselves in circumstances where it’s adjust or bust. Whether it’s a job loss, illness, stock market gamble gone bad, or a lifestyle change that resulted in a lower income, all of us have had circumstances that lead us to a choice. Do we grumble, complain, and spend all our time mourning what we used to have or do we do we look for the bright side and press on? I’m a firm believer in the silver lining theory. Even though I have moments where my day to day life can get the best of me, I always know that there is something good buried in the tough stuff. You just have to be able to look for it and pull it up out of the rubble.

I’ve learned some things from this frugal journey that had nothing to do with money. I’ve learned that the American Dream isn’t about the car and the house with the picket fence; it’s more about the people that live in the house. I’ve learned not to assume that the guy standing on the street corner holding up his cardboard sign is any less of a person than I am. I’ve learned that less is truly more. I’ve learned that my life is rich with friends and family and there is no amount of money that can top that. I’ve learned that I appreciate things so much more when they are dreamed about, saved for and completely paid for when I bring them home. And I’ve learned that challenges make me stronger and bring out a creativity I never knew I had.

So if you find yourself facing frugality with a feeling of lack, take a moment to change the way you’re thinking about it. View it as the silver lining rather than the dark and gloomy cloud and I bet you’ll find that what you thought was lack is really just a new opportunity to learn.

11 comments:

Halfmoon Girl said...

Well said!

Annie said...

What a wonderful post! Like your son, I'm a pessimist born of a pessimistic family. Despite this, I've been fervently working to change my perspective - especially in the last 3 years. It is true that we, like you, have so much to be thankful for. It's just that now I'm taking more time to call out that for which I'm thankful. A sometimes difficult task for me (still), but such a blessing at the same time. Your son will see this one day for himself. Be of good courage!

Monkey Momma said...

Thank you for this. I too, am a pessimist, born of a pessimistic family. My husband is the polar opposite of me, so we clash at times. LOL! I wish more than anything my leopard spots were not what they were...but I'm learning to accept this is just my cross to bear. (My thorn in my flesh, as Paul said...)

Thank you for the reminder that we are all so blessed...I KNOW I am, I just wish the feelings would match up somehow.

Dogaroo said...

How is your son's self esteem? Could something be bothering him that he's reluctant to talk about? Has he been screened for depression? Depression can cloud one's attitude & perspective, making it nigh unto impossible to see silver linings. Sometimes people with dark, cloudy minds may also (mistakenly) think that people who tell them to "look on the bright side" don't really understand or care what they're feeling, which makes them feel even worse.

Chances are, your son is just a normal kid whose personality happens to be on the "darker" side of "normal," and that's just fine. After all, doesn't our world need such personality types every bit as much as it needs the "perpetually sunny" types? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Gayle,

What a wonderful post and while I enjoy the bright side the one time I have difficulty is when I am sick and I can not afford health care. This is one thing in our nation that needs to be fixed / although I do not think that there is a fix to it unless we start with a willingness to tell Doctor's and Dentist that they can not charge so much! Because nationalize healthcare is not the answer.
I have had great wealth in the past and the only thing I miss is not being able to afford good health care. We have to find a way around this to bless everyone with feeling as healthy as they can so that folks can get out and do good in the world too!

Cindy in Ferndale said...

that was perfect !

Cindy in Ferndale said...

that was perfect !

Mamaoftwins said...

Love this post! I needed to hear this. Its funny how everytime Im struggling and praying for an answer to something Ill get on here and there it will be. Your such a blessing!

Liz S said...

Thank you for a great post. My son too tends to be very pessimistic - we can't figure out why because every way you look at things he is lucky & we try to point this out to him. We have been thinking that now that he's 9 - we should start taking him to volunteer at places where families are not as lucky may help him see his good fortune & appreciate the family life he has.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for such a wonderful post! You are right that frugality is much more than "going without". It has brought me such simplicity and joy, things I may not have found otherwise.
I'm reminded of a great book about the depression called "We Had Everything But Money" with hundreds of stories from those who lived through it. A good reminder of the American can-do spirit and also just how good we've got it today!

Mama Squirrel said...

Well said! I've linked.