Last Thursday was that most quintessential of American holidays, Thanksgiving.

Now and then someone will ask me “What’s the reason for Thanksgiving? Why is it a holiday?”

My stock – cheeky – answer is “To celebrate overeating!”

The true meaning, of course, is in the name: it’s a time to reflect, to appreciate the blessings of life and to focus on what we have, rather than what we have not.

Those who are of a spiritual nature may already have a finely-tuned sense of appreciation. But for those of us who aren’t, we can sometimes forget to see the positive, the good, in what’s around us.

I know, I can almost hear some people saying “There’s no use in hiding from reality behind a smokescreen of artificial cheeriness.” And they’re right.

But it is possible to balance coping with reality while maintaining a focus on the positive.

The reality: passing by, or strictly limiting, “fun foods” like deep-fried chips, especially when everyone else can indulge.

The positive spin: trying a new recipe for baked sweet potato chips, and sharing with friends and family.

The reality: the tedium of testing blood glucose and taking medications – boring annoyances of diabetes.

The positive spin: testing is virtually painless, and reminders – electronic timers and even phone apps – are super convenient.

The reality: outlining and following a fitness plan, instead of the “If I feel like it” habits of pre-diagnosis.

The positive spin: seeking out healthy forms of exercise and trying different sports to keep interest keen.

Allowing the negative to overtake our thoughts is easy: it requires no effort for us to wallow in the misery of self-imposed deprivation and hardship.

Making positive thinking a priority takes work, but it will help us keep things in perspective, and like ripples on a pond, that will have positive repercussions in our lives beyond diabetes.

Like anything else, finding the positive requires practice. Being alert for opportunities to find the good in situations doesn’t negate the reality of what you deal with day in and day out, but it can make your life a more pleasant place to be.

Pick one thing, one small thing, that has been troubling you, and find a positive angle, however small. What part of your life can you feel gratitude for today?

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Kasey Coff is an American living in Cheshire. Just turned 60, she was diagnosed with Type 2 in 2008 and focuses on “lifestyle control” as a means of diabetes management.

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