Deep in my memory there is an intense, black and white picture of a mother squatting next to her small son surrounded by barren land in Korea. The caption underneath reads, “Where will their food come from now?” Printed by our Sunday Journal many years ago, it made me feel sad that they didn’t have any food and lucky that I was born in America and did not have to worry about food. In fact it never occurred to me to even think about where my food came from. It was a blessing I took for granted.
Life seemed simpler then. As children, we played all day long worry free, at the vacant corner lot. Men listened to the ball game on their front porch after a hard day at work. The smell of dinner lingered from the kitchen stove. Neighbors said hello to each other as they passed by on their early evening walk. Television had just been introduced and most people did not have it. We listened to music and loved to sing and dance.
Today, rushing seems to be the norm and life is much more complicated. Children cannot go outside to play even in front of their own home without fear of being taken or shot. Many parents are in front of the TV after work, eating fast food purchased on the way home after picking the children up from Day Care. The local and national daily news reports tragedy, crime and murder
twenty-four hours a day. Obesity is a national crisis and though we live longer, our quality of life is questionable.
Those of us who remember, long for those simpler times, wondering if they are gone forever. Unable to turn back time we beg the question, “Is there anything that will make our lives and the lives of our loved ones simpler? Can we slow down on this fast-paced road to the slaughter of stress? Is there a magic formula? Does it have a name? Is it simple? Remember, I don’t have
If you are speeding through your life, chances are you are whining and wailing and missing out on the blessings that are right in front of you just like I was. Imagine a tiny shift in your perception moving you into a state of joy. Something to reactivate your thinking and make your life work again. Living in gratitude and counting your blessings is that something. Each moment
counts when we are grateful for it.
Everything begins with a thought. Thoughts are mental whispers that give direction to our lives. They set the tone for our day. Check it out. When you first wake up in the morning are you thinking happy thoughts, inspiring thoughts, uplifting and healthy thoughts? Are you seeing the world partly sunny instead of partly cloudy before you even open your eyes? Or, are you, like so
many others feeling tired and grumpy because you’re already focusing on unpleasantries before your feet reach the floor?
If you would like to snap out of those doldrums while still warm and cozy under the covers, think of five things that you are grateful for in the very first moment after you wake. If you have difficulty coming up with something, hold your breath for a minute or two. Or, imagine yourself being newly blinded or having lost the ability to smell. What if you had experienced an auto accident the day before that had left you paralyzed from the neck down and this was your first
day of awakening to it? What if you were that woman or her son that had been born in a Country torn apart by war? Can you see how much you have to be grateful for even before you get out of bed?
But there’s more to it than that. Before long you will realize that everything is connected to everything else. Take for example a beautiful flower. Without its stem and leaves and a root system that grows in the ground, loving the sun and the water, it just wouldn’t be. It is the same with us. We have a mind and a body, food to eat, clothes on our back, a home to live in, a place to work, furniture to sit on, money to purchase things, and friends and family to share with. The list of things we have to be grateful for is endless.
Counting our blessings is such a simple concept that most of us miss the importance of it. Instead of focusing on all the good in our lives, our lopsided perceptions have us moaning and complaining about things we can’t do anything about. Taxes, the weather, the raise we didn’t get. The American way, that many of us so often find fault with. But what if, just what if, you had been that women or her son, whose memory pops up every so often in my mind? Where do you think you would be today? How much would you have to be grateful for? Is it possible their experience of gratitude would be more sincere because they had less and appreciated more?
When I first began to focus my attention on gratitude, I was amazed at life’s new meaning for me. I felt I was seeing and hearing things for the very first time. The early morning song bird was singing just for me. The flowering crab apple trees in spring were like fourth of July firecrackers standing still so I could enjoy them all day long. I welcomed the gray clouds with each falling rain that provided relief for our parched earth. And the pure white of winter snows
was renewing and refreshing. But my newfound love for the abundance of nature could not compare to the newfound love I felt in my heart for my family and friends. By seeing their good in a new light and expressing my gratitude for them, each relationship is more comfortable, feels more loving, and we are having more fun. Remember the words of Abraham Lincoln, “A person
is just about as happy as he makes up his mind to be.” And by choosing gratitude you will be happier. You will begin to notice your good just by paying closer attention to it. In my opinion it’s insane to live without gratitude.
And finally, the real secret of gratitude is that the more you are grateful for, the more you will have to be grateful for. Life is a gift, be grateful for each present moment.