Have you asked yourself that question anytime in your life?
I certainly have. When things are going pear-shaped and it seems that nothing is working out or going my way. I've found myself cursing the situation, cursing my lot and asking "Why me?".
As human beings it is hard to be rational, to be calm and collected with the maelstroms that life can throw our way sometimes. It is hard to stop, think and tell ourselves in the heat of the moment, "And this too shall pass."
The Stoic philosophers of antiquity had a great approach to life and living, especially regarding those externalities that are beyond our control. They stated that the only thing in our control is our thoughts and beliefs. Which in turn determine how we act when an external event occurs.
One of the key elements of Stoic philosophy is self-reflection. For example Marcus Aurelius the Roman Emperor kept a journal. In the journal, he would write every day. He would write about things that happened and how he dealt with them at the time or not as it may be when something was out of his control. His writings formed a core tenet of Stoic philosophy and are a wonderful set of values to live one's life by. Even today!
Journals and diaries are a great way to put our thoughts on paper and reflect on what we did, how we spoke to people with whom we interacted, did we lose our temper and if so what caused it? Retrospectively we are then able to improve on those qualities that may not be ideal or reflecting on some of our characteristics that could do with a bit of polishing.
One of the things I'd heard journals being used for is a log for recording our thankfulness on a daily basis. Our gratitude towards what material possessions we have, what delectable delights we savour, and what we see, feel and touch. The fact that we are able to breathe every breath, take every step is something to be cherished and marvelled.
Even though being thankful and reciting gratitude for what life has given me is a daily practice that I partake in, often I forget to do so. Leading a busy work and travel schedule as well as a modern family life one can forget in the rush of things to value even the breath we breathe. Then when something doesn't go one's way, our cry is always, "Why me?". Many a time have I been a culprit making that statement, questioning God, life and the universe for the injustice. Even though there are millions of people around the world who are going through far more challenging times, with war, strife, hunger, famine and numerous other man inflicted injustices.
Very few times do we stop and ask ourselves when things don't go our way, or when one of lifes challenges come our way, "I am alive", first and foremost, and then count all the other blessing that we have.
Shakespeare once said, "I cried when I had no shoes, but I stopped crying when I saw a man with no legs...! Life is full of blessings sometimes we don't value it..."
Therefore, as a new act of self-reflection and conscious gratitude, I have begun - since the start of this year - my own Journal of Gratitude. I promised myself that I will write at least five things I am grateful for every day, but I will not limit myself to this number. It is hard some days to think about what I am thankful for. Some days a flood of good things will happen and I write it all down. Other days, the simplest blessing of a good night's sleep or waking up alive is a valuable gratitude to log.
Above all, this writing of gratitudes makes me think of what good I have going for me, and really 'skin the cat' of my daily life. Plus, through that simple focus on the positive, it allows me to continually focus on the self-fulfilling prophecy of attracting the best and swatting away the flies of negativity.