Thanks (It’s a wonderful life)

I watched an old black and white movie on Saturday night called "It's a Wonderful Life" starring Jimmy Stewart. If you haven't seen it, it's about an honest, hard working small businessman, George Bailey, who has spent his life contributing to his local community.

But George has some bad luck which looks like sending him bankrupt. On Christmas Eve he blows up at his family, gets drunk, decides his life has been worthless and contemplates suicide. He soon finds himself on a bridge staring into the dark swirling waters below. It's snowing, he's cold and miserable with a bleeding mouth where he has been punched in the face, and he's preparing to jump.

But his guardian angel, Clarence, who has been watching the drama unfold, intervenes with a mischievous distraction. Clarence tries to convince George that things aren't as bad as he thinks and his money problems will pass. George won't listen. He thinks Clarence is a nut case and says things would be better for everyone if he were dead. He puts his head in his hands and moans "I wish I hadn't been born."

This gives Clarence an idea and, with some help from the man upstairs, he erases all evidence of George's time on earth. He then convinces George to accompany him on a stroll through town.

George reluctantly humours Clarence but is soon stunned and confused because everything has changed! The town is now full of negativity and corruption. Even the name of the town, which is now called Pottersville after a ruthless tyrant whose shonky dealings George had previously blocked.

George starts to realise his life has been far from worthless. In this alterative universe even his most modest gestures of kindness, when removed, have resulted in people's lives being considerably diminished.

The Power of Reframing

This is a fun movie to watch with your family. I've seen it four our five times now and never tire of it. The technique used by director, Frank Capra, is often employed by psychologists and coaches to help give people a fresh perspective on life. It's called reframing and can involve asking a powerful question such as "Think back to why you started this venture -- what were you wanting to achieve?" or "If you were to leave the business for your staff to run for a year, what message would you give them?"

Frank Capra's film got me thinking about how every day, even our smallest actions or comments impact on the lives of those around us in ways we will probably never know. It reminded me of how people occasionally mention something I did or said that had a big impact on them, yet I can't for the life of remember doing or saying it.

It also reminded me of how grateful I am for the little things others have done over the years, things that have helped me along the way when I have needed a smile or a word of encouragement. And it reminded me that we can all make a difference, even when we are not trying - just by being ourselves and showing a little kindness.

Until next time,

Greg Nathan

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