“No Problems, Only Situations”

The Key to a Jamaican Thanksgiving in 2015

This year we were blessed to be able to travel to the beautiful island of Jamaica. I distinctly remember getting on the shuttle from the airport and hearing a thick Jamaican voice on the intercom welcoming us to Jamaica and reminding us that “in Jamaica there are no problems, only situations.” I will be honest—the idea of no problems sounded great in theory, but mostly I just thought this was what tourists liked to hear. After all, Jamaica was known for its catchy sayings like, “don’t worry, be happy,” and this was no different. I was surprised, however, that throughout our time in Jamaica this was not just a cheesy slogan to entertain visitors but instead a legitimate way of life. Here we were in a completely impoverished country where many people were struggling to earn their very next meal and yet they were incredibly lax. So what was it? What about Jamaican culture was different than anywhere else?

Over the next few days, I discovered exactly what it was. Gratitude. As much as I saw a laid back attitude in the people of Jamaica, I also saw extreme gratitude. We were encouraged not to give tips for service, however, we did anyway because that was just the right thing to do. I sensed genuine thankfulness for this simple act from every single person there. It was not just the tips either– when my husband told a waiter one day that he was doing an excellent job, he looked as if he had just won the lottery and thanked my husband profusely for the “encouragement.” As the season of Thanksgiving approaches, I reflect back on the sincerity of the people of Jamaica. This attitude towards gratitude is a way of life that leads to inner peace – it is unmistakable. How then can we whom are blessed, at least financially, beyond that of the Jamaicans learn to practice this gratitude in our own lives? It appears to me that the key is to practice thankfulness often. Below are some things that might help you get going on your Jamaican Thanksgiving in 2015. Maybe you can take some of them into the New Year as well. You can always top it off with some delicious rum cake… yeah mon!

  • Start a countdown journal today until Thanksgiving day where each member of your family adds something they are thankful for daily. Wait until Thanksgiving and read it aloud before you eat.
  • Send a thank you card or email to somebody you should have thanked long ago.
  • Donate your time this year to an organization that feeds the homeless on Thanksgiving – take the kids. This lesson is priceless to them.
  • When you are stuck in traffic instead of going over your to-do list in your head try listing all of the things you are thankful for.
  • When somebody compliments you – look them in the eyes and genuinely thank them.
  • Meditate, spend some quiet time, or pray intentionally for the purpose of thanking, not to ask of anything or anybody but just to give thanks for the things and the people in your life.

Brené Brown: Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count

In her 99U talk—Why Your Critics Aren’t the Ones Who Count—Dr. Brené Brown gets personal and shares how she struggled in the wake of her success as she dealt with various, personal attacks wielded by critics in the public arena. Similar to how most of us would respond, Brené was devastated by the undeservedly negative criticism, yet it was precisely at this darkest time when she stumbled upon the following quote that radically changed her thinking and, as a result, changed her life. In her video Brené reveals what she ultimately learned about herself as well as life lessons—guidance that may be of benefit to us all.

THE MAN IN THE ARENA
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

~Excerpt from the Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910.~

Brené’s Final Thoughts:  

  1. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about showing up and being seen.
  2. If you’re going to show up and be seen, you will be criticized. That is the guarantee and the only certainty you have. So, you have to decide at that moment if courage is a value that you hold because criticism is a natural consequence.
  3. Brene’s philosophy about criticism—To the critics: If you’re not putting yourself on the line and just talking about how I could do it better, I’m in no way interested in your feedback. PERIOD.

It’s so scary to show up, it feels dangerous to be seen. It’s terrifying, but it is not as scary, dangerous, or terrifying as getting to the end of our lives and thinking: What if I would have shown up…What would have been different?