Kip is an engineer. One cardinal rule of engineering is that if you want to improve something, track it. This relates to whether we focus on the positive things of life or negative. I believe that as we focus on excellence for these eighty days, that learning to focus on certain things can make us not only more positive but also spur us on to greater excellence as we shed the frustration and load of focusing on so many problems.
One Big problem: No heat!
So, last Thursday night on one of the coldest nights of the year (so far), our heater went out. So, when I got up Friday morning, I was tempted to number all of the things that were upsetting me.
But I stopped.
I thought to myself,
“I REFUSE to count my curses. I will not do it.”
Why on earth would I count how many things are wrong with my life?
Would it make me feel better to go to school and be able to say ?
“I have ten big problems right now. Poor me.”
What good would that do?
Decide to count the good things each day
So, each morning as I journal, I ask myself a few questions. As we pursue 80 days of excellence, I will share all of those questions at some point. But I have 3 questions each inspired by my verse for this year,
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”
So, after asking two questions related to the first two thoughts in that verse, I go back and count “what things are added unto me.”
In other words, what blessings am I thankful for this moment?
I even thought about counting all my blessings and charting them every day. When I did that, I realized that the blessings I have would number the hundreds if not the thousands! Really, I have so many blessings!
Do I have things wrong? Oh yes. Big things. Things I don’t talk about publicly but are deep dark moments of life – some of the deepest I’ve ever experienced.
Do I have to deal with them? Yes.
But do I count how many of those dark problems I’m dealing with right now? No.
What color do you see?
I teach this concept to my students this way. I ask them to notice how much red there is in the room and around them. I ask them to start naming things that are red. Suddenly red is EVERYWHERE. It is everywhere!
Who knew there was so much red in the world?
Well, the person who notices lots of red is the one who looks for it.
I notice the color blue. I love blue and so I’m always noticing blue things and lovely blue colors I’ve never seen before. That is because blue is my favorite and I look for it.
What is your favorite: problems or blessings?
So, what is your favorite side of life? Do you like problems? Like Eeyore, the stuffed donkey on Winnie the Pooh who is always losing his tail, are you perpetually gloomy?
Or do you like good things?
Whichever you like best you should look for every day.
I once read that when a person is struggling with depression that often psychologists will ask that person to do two things: exercise and list five things I each morning that are blessings. Now, of course, many people need medication in addition to these.
As a person who has been in the seemingly dark hole of depression myself, I would never minimize just how hard and dark those times can be. But in my own journey back to the light several years ago, I started listing blessings each morning.
One thing: I counted the good things. I measured them.
Today’s Challenge: Sit Down and Count the Good Things In Your Life
So, as we pursue excellence during these eighty days, today’s challenge is to sit down and list all of the great things in your life. Don’t sit down and list the bad things! The good things. The blessings. If you want a challenge list 20 or even list 100.
Sometimes Gratitude Comes From Problems
And sure, when you struggle, sometimes you can list blessings you’ve never thought of before.
For example, I saw a new blessing on Friday morning after waking up in my house which was 54 degrees farenheit.
On Friday morning I walked to my classroom and thought,
“Wow, I’m so glad to be at school because I’m finally warm.”
And then I realized what I’ve heard said before at many conferences,
“Understand that some kids want to be at school where they are warm, fed, and in a safe place.”
First, I am thankful that I can understand that feeling. It cost me one night in cold and a little fear (wondering if it could be fixed.) But what a blessing to be able to understand that very hard feeling. Someday there will be a child or adult who I can better relate to because of that.
Second, every single day before that Thursday where I’d slept in a warm house suddenly became a blessing to me.
I have thousands of days of heat that I’m now epically thankful to receive.
Sometimes we have to NOT have something before we appreciate having it. But it shouldn’t be so.
Just ask those who have had cancer and lived through to the other end. Every day is sweeter for many of them.
We all have blessings. We all have problems.
What you count — counts!
You’re programming yourself to notice whatever you count!
So, count the right things.
- Count friends, not enemies.
- Count blessings, not curses.
- Count excitement, not boredom.
Count each day of life you and your loved ones live as a blessing not how many days you’ve been without them or how short life is.
Counting the right things, my friend is a secret of excellence that counts.