In 2018, we’ve done three major things that tear marriages apart. Moved to another state, had a baby, and changed jobs while starting grad school (I guess that’s four). I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it’s been a difficult year for us! 

So much of our experience depends on how we look at it. A story that really brings this point home is a story about two bricklayers. There were two male bricklayers who had identical jobs. Someone asks the first man, “What is it that you do?” He answers in a negative tone, obviously feeling sorry for himself: “I sit here every day laying one stupid brick on top of another.” The man turns to the other bricklayer and asks the same question. His response is quite different. He says in a confident, upbeat manner, “I am a craftsman. I help build all the beautiful buildings you see around you. Without my contribution, none of this would be here.”

The moral of the story is that both men are right. Sometimes, no matter what situation we find ourselves in, we need to put a positive spin on it. At times we can try and change our situation but there could be a lot things outside of our control.

I heard about two recent stories that helped me realize how fortunate we are. One couple had lost everything they owned in a fire. I couldn’t imagine losing everything but they considered it a blessing in disguise. They said it was a chance for them to start over and rebuild their lives. 

A different family had lost their entire life savings because of fraud. But, rather than let it ruin their lives and make them feel like bitter victims, they made a different decision. They decided that they had become too greedy and materialistic. This was a chance for them to reevaluate their priorities and live a much simpler life. 

These are other things that could and do tear people apart. 

You can take almost any situation and look at it in two ways. You can look for what you can learn from it. Or you can take the more common view and see all difficulties as more evidence that life is hard and unfair. 

No matter what it is, whether you’ve had everything stolen, someone left you, you didn’t reach financial independence when you had hoped to, you failed a class, you lost a job, you’ve got debt that keeps you up at night, your kids won’t get a Christmas this year, or you suffer from physical pain — you always have the option of looking at it positively. 

Being pessimistic and negative about our situation only makes the situation worse and harder to deal with than it already is. 

We’ve learned that no matter what it is that we go through, it helps us grow and gain a deeper perspective. Any time we go through something hard, we love to say, “Won’t it be great to look back on this moment?” Because we know how much it will cause us to grow. 

So here’s my main message — whenever possible, it’s best to go through each experience with positivity.

One other thing I didn’t mention was my dad passed away last Christmas Eve and I wrote some thoughts down the day after I heard about the news. I’ve been fairly quiet about it but I plan to share some of the things I wrote last year on next weeks blog post. So stay tuned for that. 

Have a very merry Christmas and I hope you find joy in your home this holiday season!

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