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“Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Focus on your character, not your reputation. Focus on your blessings, not your misfortunes” Roy Bennett

Thanksgiving is a time of family. With the pandemic before us, many of us have not been able to join together and share time with those we love. My table this year was missing my eldest son, not because of the pandemic, but because he joined the National Guard and is now at Boot Camp. I am so proud of both my sons and the choices they are making as they make their way in the world. You don’t get to choose all the circumstances you face in the world. You don’t get to choose your family of origin, but you do get to choose what you make of those circumstances and what you become.

The world puts labels on everyone: mentally ill, special needs, handicapped, chronic pain, organ transplant, hyperactive, poor, minority, homosexual, victim, etc. Everyone has been given some sort of label at some time in their life. A key to resilience is to not be defined by that label. Don't let that label be your first or only identifier. It should be as if it was drawn on with a dry erase marker. It is simply one facet of your life, not the definition of who you are. Then take a permanent marker and write down your goals, dreams, and the legacy you want to leave for the world. We all have inherent worth as human beings. We all have unique character strengths we share with the world to make it a better place. When we focus on our strengths instead of our weaknesses we actually become stronger!

Thanksgiving is a great time to be thankful for our strengths.

“It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” Dale Carnegie

I thought that chronic pain made my world small, but this pandemic has made my world even smaller. To make matters worse, I had a pain flare limiting how far I can walk. Getting together with friends, which was limited before, has become more limited. Even going to the coffee shop to write my blog and get out of the house is no longer a possibility.

It’s hard not to focus on all the things we aren’t able to do. I could hear in my voice new negativity. It didn’t take long until darker thoughts came more quickly to me, so about a month ago my husband and decided we must get out every day of the weekend. We live in a northern clime; a long, cold, dark winter is ahead of us, so we must enjoy the good weather while we can. Instead of thinking negatively, we thought positively. My husband looked up wheelchair accessible hiking trails so I could go further than I normally would. We relished the beautiful fall foliage our state has to offer. These weekend outings became the highlights of my week, bringing positivity back into my life.

There will always be negative events in our lives. There will always be things we want that we don’t have. Happiness comes from the inside when we realize we were in control all along. It is not what happens to us that causes the suffering but our reaction to it.

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within us in our way of thinking.”

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