Over the weekend while having dinner with a couple from my church I was reminded of a truth that too often I forget.
While conversing over dinner I learned that one of our guests had recently been working at a local casino as a dealer. As we ate I pelted him with questions about his experiences there. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been fascinated by the gaming industry as a whole, particularly about the people who, despite knowing the house always wins, choose to use their hard-earned money in a hopeless attempt to hit it big.
Unlike the exciting party type atmosphere that is often portrayed in their commercials, his description of what it’s really like was far more depressing. He talked about how many of the players would arrive in the late evening and gamble most of the night. What was saddest to me was how he described the players’ overall experience while gambling. He said they rarely experienced happiness when they actually won. For most, he explained, they were always trying just to get back to even. Therefore, wins weren’t seen as something worth celebrating; instead they were still focused on how much they’d lost.
If I’m honest I can’t help but see myself in what he was describing. I don’t know about you, but too often I also focus on what has gone wrong over what is going right in my own life. Most of us are blessed beyond description, but you wouldn’t know it by how we act.
From an economic perspective we are experiencing record highs in the stock market, record lows in unemployment and unprecedented economic growth. Yet instead of being thankful for our blessings and optimistic about what the future holds we too often choose to focus on the negative.
Yes, the fourth quarter of last year was painful for investors, and it’s true that there is a lot of political instability both in Washington and in the world that could cause markets to take a tumble. However, generally speaking we have far more reason to be excited than fearful.
As we enter into the holiday season I have decided to make a concentrated effort to make sure my attention is directed toward the small victories I have, rather than the failures. As I write this I’m looking out my front window watching the snow come down. I’m working from my home today because my youngest son is sick. The way I see it, I could choose to dwell on the difficulties I am facing like illness and bad weather, or I can focus on the fact that I work for a company that makes working from home an option, and in a country where health care is readily available.
Since this is my last column before Thanksgiving I would challenge you to do the same. Give yourself license to share with others some of the successes you’ve had in 2019. Not in a braggadocious way, but in a thankful way. By telling others about blessings you’ve received it can maybe help to shift your own perspective as well as serve as an encouragement to others.