My dear mother taught me this very early in life. Whenever I started whining she used to point out from our bedroom window to the slums behind our apartment and say – Look how they live and be happy you have so much. Well, I didn’t think we had much and I never really got this for another decade or so. If you look up which part of the world the most number of unhappy people live in, you will be surprised to see that the top ten are developed countries of the world and not the poorest countries. It’s called the affliction of having too much to the point of not appreciating it. After I moved to the U.S. I ended up being a statistic. I was unhappy and considered myself a ‘deprived’ soul. Fortunately, some part of me saw a gaping hole in this theory. I had everything!
So why was I unhappy? Why was I needy? What was I missing? I was missing gratitude. Big time! All I did was whine about what I didn’t have (my mom tried to drill sense into me but it fell on deaf ears). When I hit 30 I think something changed and I shifted my focus and energy on being thankful for what I had. My life changed and wonderful things started happening to me.But it took me a long time to get to ‘this’ place – where I am right now. Where I’m thankful even for the times when I was battered, thrown off the cliff and hanging for my dear life. I am what I am because those not-so-nice things happened to me. I needed adversity to grow in wisdom and tragedy to teach me the gift of joy in fleeting moments.
Let me explain…I whined about being away from friends and family and being lonely all the time. Now, I realize that the time I spent alone was the time I found myself and got comfortable with ‘me’. These days I seek quiet moments away from the crowds, just to connect with my inner guidance and wisdom. Ten years ago I would have told you this is all gobbledygook and that I hate being alone!
The years I spent being unemployed and feeling worthless, I thought I would be happy with a job. But those years fine-tuned my senses to bring me back to writing and helping others. When I did get a job, I knew that just any job would never be enough anymore.
When I volunteer at the school, I sometimes wish I was paid for my time and effort (I’m not very proud of feeling that way) but the progress the kids make and the sheer joy of working with unpretentious souls whose sole purpose in life is to have fun, makes me want to do more. Sometimes I think I’m luckier than the teachers even though they get paid for what they do!
In hindsight, it’s been a rocky road but now I try to wake up every morning and give thanks for another beautiful day. It’s easy enough to do when things are going swimmingly. Try it when your life is topsy-turvy – that’s a real challenge. Today seems to be one of those days…so here goes. I’m thankful for being alive, for being in a loving relationship, for being a mom. I’m thankful for every person in my life who believed in me when I didn’t. I’m thankful for the gift of creativity, sensitivity and compassion. I’m thankful to you for reading this and thankful for my blog. I’m thankful that I finally realized that ‘I’ can make a difference however small and insignificant ‘I’ may be.
The universe likes gratitude and responds to gratitude. It conspires to bring you more of the same experiences that you are grateful for. It works in ways that your mind could never conceive and sometimes delivers you things beyond your wildest dreams. Gratitude shifts you into the state of receiving (speed delivery, first class, priority!) It happened to me. If you asked me in 2011 if I would ever write a blog, my answer would have been – NEVER!
And I stand corrected, humbled and eternally grateful.
Do share the three things in your life that you are most grateful for, below…Thanks!