When I hear people say that we’re all broken, I think about the Island of Misfit Toys from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The misfit toys—all unwanted because of their imperfections—live on an island, away from the rest of the toys. They wait on the island until their ruler finds a child who will love them.
We all have imperfections. Many of us go through trauma at some point in our lives. And all of us have moments where we’re not our best selves. These experiences are painful at best, excruciating at worst. But they don’t mean that we’re broken.
What if, instead of holding onto our brokenness, we saw ourselves as whole, as being in the process of getting stronger? What if we trusted that somehow, we could get through this?
My experience during dark times is that I needed to process the emotions—the anger, the fear, the sadness—but every day, I also needed to find some light. It was the light, the abundance of love in my life, that gave me the certainty that I’d somehow get on the other side of the situation, even if I didn’t know how.
We don’t have to be perfect, and we don’t need to be happy all the time. We just need to be doing our best in the moment, understanding that our best will look different when life’s going well for us than it will when we’re suffering. And if we’re relentlessly grateful for the brightness in our lives, we’ll bring more brightness in.
Misfit toys see themselves as not worthy. They’re focused on their flaws and are destined for unhappiness. And because they’re so fixated on flaws, they tend to magnify those flaws.
But those who find a spec of light even when they’re in jet-black darkness are taking an important action, one that will help them recover and become stronger. By finding a bright spot and focusing on it, they’re magnifying that brightness.
Be Relentlessly Grateful
People who regularly practice gratitude sleep better, experience more positive emotions, express more compassion and kindness, and have stronger immune systems. Nightly gratitude helps reduce anxious thoughts that keep us awake at night, and sets the stage for a more positive next day.
Before bedtime each night, write down three things you’re grateful for. In the morning, review your list before you get out of bed.