TM_SLIDINGAD_110414Thanksgiving is coming, and that usually makes us think about gratitude – or perhaps football, turkey and pumpkin pie. Though giving thanks may not be the main focus on this or any day, our lives would all be much better if it were. It is so easy to get wrapped up in activities, thoughts, beliefs and habits that steal our joy. (Maybe you’ve noticed that.) These are some of the biggest joy and peace stealers I have identified:

This is a huge one for me. I once told my boss I was overwhelmed and he replied, “You’re always overwhelmed.” At first I got defensive, and then I realized he was right. Overwhelmed is a state of mind. It is a close cousin of busy. Have you ever noticed how often, when someone asks you how you are, you answer, “busy?” We are all busy, all the time. We can allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by everything on our to do list, or we can recognize that no matter how long we live, how productive we are or how many assistants we have, we will NEVER get it all done. Whew! There’s a certain relief in recognizing that, and releasing the pressure valve.

We like to think we are in control. It gives us a sense of security to believe it’s all handled. The truth is, the more we try to control our lives, other people, the weather, traffic, etc. – the more frustrated we get that it can’t be done. Shit happens, and when we stop, take a breath and recognize that when it does, we will get through it, we can unclench and go with the flow of life, rather than trying to direct it all the time.

We live in a time where fear is used as a commodity to manipulate us – politically, socially, commercially, religiously. If you watch the news or the political ads that are also part of this season, you would think the world is on the verge of collapse. Perhaps it is! But my worrying about it is unlikely to change anything, except maybe my blood pressure. My action might. Fear is a destructive emotion, and it can easily destroy us if we let it. Have you heard it used as an acronym: False Evidence Appearing Real? Don’t let something unreal diminish all the real and good things in your life.

These are two sides of the same coin. Most of our states of being have two sides, and residing in the middle – what I like to call the sweet spot – is the most peaceful. Our ego wants us to look good, save face, protect, insulate, man up and put on a brave face. This often requires us to blame others, the system, or our own circumstances for our feelings, but being a victim doesn’t bring joy or peace.

My new program, #LML: Love My Life, and recently published book highlight the power of our own perception to create our world. We can take complete responsibility for our lives, embrace the challenges as awesome learning opportunities, fully appreciate the triumphs, and welcome everything in between. We can practice gratitude for what we have, and still desire more. When we do, we can love our lives, no matter what happens to us.

Credit // Author: Tracy Maxwell

Tracy Maxwell is a speaker and author, sharing her powerful messages of inspiration and hope across the country. Learn more about Tracy and her keynotes at You can also follow her on Twitter at @TracyMax.