by Karthik Gurumurthy
When you squeeze a Banana, does orange juice come out? When you squeeze a tomato do you find apple juice? Of course not. When you squeeze something, the real thing comes out. That is, what's really inside really comes out. Amazing isn't it? Well, here's a better question: When you are squeezed, what comes out? ... Let the question just sit for a moment... When you are squeezed, what comes out?
You see, adversity doesn't develop character, it reveals it. Does your answer put a smile on your face or is it concerning? When squeezed, does love come out? Anger? Compassion? What are you so filled with that it is what must come out? Okay, some of you may not like the answer. But, no worries, if you want something different to come out, then simply start filling yourself up with something new.
There is a story told by author John Maxwell in his book, Think on These Things--Meditations for Leaders, that illustrates this point. In his own words:
"Several years ago I read a true story...For four decades East Berlin was controlled by the Communists. West Berlin was free. One day some people who lived in East Berlin took a truckload of garbage and dumped it on the West Berlin side. The people of West Berlin could have retaliated by doing the same thing. But instead they took a truckload of canned goods, bread, and milk and neatly stacked it on the East Berlin side. On top of this stack of food they placed the sign: 'Each gives what he has.'"
One of the most important things you can choose to fill up with is Gratitude. Gratitude will show up as patience, peace, love, compassion and humility. It will change the way you see the world and everything in it. Gratitude begins with faith and is obtained by reframing the way you see things. One perspective may lead to pride while another perspective regarding the same situation can lead to gratitude. It's all a matter of your perspective and it is your choice to decide.
"There but for the grace of God, go I." This quotation, expressing that someone's misfortune could easily have happened to oneself or anyone at all, is commonly traced back to the British Protestant reformer John Bradford (b. 1510 - d. 1555). He is said to have made the remark, "There but for the grace of God, go John Bradford," upon seeing criminals on their way to execution. He chose not to be prideful but rather humble due to his perspective that if it wasn't for the grace of God, it could well have been himself on his way to execution. Can you get there mentally or are you certain that if you lived their life it still wouldn’t be you? It is difficult to be arrogant when you are grateful for grace. He also understood that he can still stand up for the principles he believes in while feeling humble rather than prideful towards those who have fallen short of the mark. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “He who you will change, you must first love.” Have discord with actions but love people. Be grateful for God’s grace.
Be grateful for what you have been given rather than upset over what you don't have or feel has been taken from you. What you have has been gifted to you. Count your blessings. Be grateful. All too often people complain: "I don't have enough money." "My home is a mess." "My kids are tiring." "There's nothing to eat in this house." "I'm not in good enough shape." Have you ever heard people say these things? I'm sure they are all true and, therefore, the feelings behind them are valid. However, if we want things to be better in our life we must learn to reframe them; put things into a different context. Don't try to "stuff" your feelings but rather change the perspective and your feelings will follow. To feel gratitude, change the perspective from looking at your situation from someone who is worse off than you. "I don't have enough money." Consider: Some people don't have any money at all. "My home is a mess." Consider: Millions of people are homeless. "My kids are tiring." Consider: Countless number of people want kids but can't have any. They would gladly be a tired parent. "There's nothing good to eat in this house." Consider: Millions of people are starving to death and could only dream of your last meal. "I'm not in good enough shape." Consider: Millions of people are battling cancer, AIDS, and other bodily diseases.
If you truly focus on this new perspective even when you "don't feel like it," you will notice the release of tension and a new attitude of gratitude will come over you. I know it can be hard because when we don't feel happy we don't feel like changing a perspective on anything. But, remember, your victory comes from growing through your struggles. Now, don't misunderstand, I'm not advocating not caring about improving your situation. However, I am suggesting that all the while you can always choose a perspective that fosters an attitude of gratitude. Will it make a difference in your life and in your pursuit towards fulfilling your Life Mission? Absolutely! Watch how an attitude of gratitude will draw key people closer to you along with more things for which to be grateful.
Consider if you have kids, what do you feel when they are complaining that they don't have this or that? Do you feel a sense of urgency to get it for them or do you feel frustrated or unappreciated for what you have provided? How do you suppose God feels about you? Your life and everything in it has been a gift to you. But, you have worked hard for everything? I'm sure you have. But, where did your ambition come from? It's all a gift. Be grateful even for the little things. A man was running late to a job interview and trying to park his car. He prayed, "God please give me a parking spot so I can make this interview." Just then, a car starts to pull out. Immediately the man says, "Oh, never mind God, I just found one." Yes, it is easy not to credit our gifts. Live with an attitude of gratitude and see if it is not true that more good comes your way.