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Being Thankful

26 Nov

It’s Thanksgiving time and every year when it rolls around we remember the many things we’re thankful for. There are the big things – our families and loved ones, our health, our homes, our jobs, and the many other things that make our lives easier and more rewarding. But there are other things we sometimes forget to be thankful for. The small things we take for granted or fail to notice. We all have so much, and here is a list I’ve been thinking about of some of the small things that bring me happiness. There are millions of other things I could add but this is a start. Maybe you’ll see something here that you forgot, or maybe this will remind you of something else. Here goes:

I’m thankful for the times when my boss remembered me, and for the times when he forgot me!

I’m thankful for hot showers when I’m sore and cold water when I’m thirsty.

I’m thankful for the kind man at the grocery store who stopped working to help me find something.

I’m thankful for bees and the incredible honey they make that nobody can duplicate.

I’m thankful for my car.

I’m thankful for the big bag of marshmallows in my cabinet so I can have them when I make hot chocolate in the morning.

I’m thankful I can walk, and bike, and swim, and see, and hear, and touch, and feel, and smell, and taste.

I’m thankful the heater in my house works so I can be warm when it’s cold outside.

I’m thankful for my bed.

I’m thankful for Saturdays. I love Saturdays.

I’m thankful for laughter, and music, and fun.

I’m thankful for salt and how delicious it makes french fries taste.

I’m thankful for my sweats after a long day in a suit.

And I’m thankful for all the people, in all the world, who try hard to be the best they can be every day. I’ve learned so much from so many, and my life has been embellished because I share the planet with them. I’m thankful for so much. I hope you are too. Happy Thanksgiving.

Being Happy

27 Sep

Most of us want to be happy in our lives. We try to do things that will bring us happiness and avoid things that will make us miserable. But being happy is more than just a state of mind. It’s important for our well-being, and there are studies that show happy people have better health. Some even suggest happiness may improve our immune systems. A strong immune system would certainly be beneficial. We are calmer when we’re happy, and more apt to be aware of our bodies and what’s going on around us. And happy people tend to make better decisions. Given these benefits, it seems not only desirable to try to be happy, but essential for a strong, and healthy life.

One way we can open the door to feeling happier is to learn to be grateful. We all have a lot to be thankful for but we take so much for granted. It’s wonderful to have clothes to wear and a place to live. It’s good to have food available to us, and fresh air. If we’re tired, a nice, comfortable bed is nothing short of a blessing. But we get used to these things and we can forget how much comfort they bring into our lives. If we try to remember to be thankful for everything we have, we’ll find more joy in our lives, and more happiness. If we’re feeling low, just writing down all our blessings at the end of each day, will remind us of how much we have and how blessed we are. Those feelings will bring joy into our hearts.

We have a lot of influence over others we come in contact with every day. If we are glum and grumpy, we may negatively impact their lives. But if we’re positive in our interactions with them, and express an attitude of happiness, we will brighten everyone we meet. Happiness is highly contagious. If we smile, most of the time the person we smile at will return one right back to us. If we share some positive message with them, they are likely to share it with others, and embrace it in their lives. Of all the things we can do to impact others, perhaps the easiest thing is to share joy with them. If we all tried to be more grateful for what we have, and share more happiness with those around us, we could change the world.

Today as you go about your tasks, remember how much you have to be thankful for. Remember all the positive things you have that bring you joy and comfort. And share a positive attitude with those around you. You’ll be amazed at the responses you’ll get. People will be drawn to you, and want to share their lives with you in return. Recognize your blessings. Rejoice in them. And share them with everyone you meet. Be happy.  You have the power to change the world.

What if?

28 May

Have you ever had a near miss where the hit would have been devastating? For instance, a car pulls right in front of yours, and you have to slam on the breaks, and just before you hit it you stop. Or you slip going down the stairs, and at the last minute are able to grab the rail – just in time. Or maybe you’re at a ball game, and a wild ball whizzes past your head just as you bend forward. Near misses. What if you hadn’t been able to stop, and you hit that car going so fast? What if you had fallen all the way down the stairs to the tile floor below? What if you hadn’t bent over just as that baseball came flying at your head? Near misses are frightening. Looking back at them on the other side can shake us. We wonder, what if?

Our lives are filled with “what ifs.” A thousand things could go wrong. If we think about all the possibilities of what could end in disaster, and how many things could misfire and lead to destruction, we may begin to wonder how on earth we’ve survived for so long. Everything can turn in a moment. In a fraction of a second, everything could change. It’s unsettling to think about, but thankfully, so far, we’re still here.

In our lives we can become complacent. We have our routines, we do our stuff, we take care of things, and generally we don’t  really think about the risks of what could go wrong. If we thought about every danger that could happen, it could keep us from moving forward. After all, we really can’t be successful at anything if we’re afraid of everything, so we just soldier on, and try not to think about the “what ifs.” We assume that everything will pretty much work out, and most of the time it pretty much does. But sometimes it doesn’t. And then everything changes. We can’t predict what is coming our way. We can only deal with it when it arrives. And sometimes the “what ifs” happen to us all.

There are no guarantees for any of us. Since we don’t know what lies ahead, perhaps we shouldn’t take a single moment for granted. Perhaps we should be more thankful for each day we have that goes well. Every single day that we get to do what we want, every single day that things go well, every single day that we survive – we should be grateful.

Today, think about all the blessings you have in your life. There are a lot of them. Don’t take any of them for granted. We have a lot to be grateful for. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, but you have today. It’s a wonderful gift to have today. Don’t forget that. Make it count. And don’t forget to be thankful for it.

Treasure Chest

13 May

Our society seems obsessed with celebrity. There are dozens of reality shows featuring celebrities supposedly filmed in their regular lives, which as it turns out, generally aren’t regular at all. Every tabloid, every magazine, every periodical is covered with their faces, and stories about their escapades. They are often dysfunctional people, and stories of their troubles are endless. The extravagant excesses of their lifestyles are nearly unbelievable.

As we read about these people, and see them on television, the message seems to be that this is what we should be aiming for. We should seek riches, buy only the finest things, and serve ourselves. The ads we see showing these ideals always feature happy, smiling people. We just have to be rich, buy new cars, bigger homes, and send our children to only the finest private schools. Then we’ll be happy.

But happiness has never had anything to do with money or riches. It’s true, money can buy anything but poverty, but it’s also true that rich or poor, we are who we are. If we are happy and content, if we are thankful when we have little, we will probably be happy, content, and thankful if we get more. And so it follows that if we are miserable complainers who constantly find fault when we have little, we will probably be miserable complainers who constantly find fault when we have more. The monetary things we own do not change who we are inside. They can’t. What happens outside of us may make us more comfortable in the immediate future, but eventually our true selves emerge.

The secret to life isn’t getting more treasure, and seeking after riches. The secret to life is learning to live happily, and gratefully, no matter what circumstance we’re in. Having few possessions, and little money doesn’t mean we must be miserable. If we can be grateful for what we have, no matter how little or how much, we will be happy. A humble meal shared with those we love can be more fun than a meal at a four star restaurant. Time in the park throwing a Frisbee with friends can be as enjoyable as a formal gala.

Racing to get the most, get the best, and get to it first is exhausting, and will not bring joy. If we are thankful for what we have, and enjoy every moment of every day, exactly where we are, we will find happiness. Some years will be lean, some years will be full, it’s the nature of life. But no matter where we are, there is much for which to be grateful.

Today when you walk through the store and see all the splashy pictures of the rich and famous, try to remember that your life is valuable just as it is. It’s good, and it’s worthwhile. It’s the most important thing you have. Be grateful for it. It’s worth more than anything that can be bought. In fact, it’s priceless.

Spare change?

6 May

Today while driving home from work, I saw a man standing in the median with a sign asking for money. He was on the other side of the road facing away from me, but I’ve seen him before. He has one leg, and stands with a crutch, but you can see his wheelchair across the road. I don’t know what his story is. I don’t know what his problems are. I don’t know anything about him except that he is seeking money.

Everyone has their own ideas about giving to beggars on the street. Some people feel they should help if they can, because they have sufficient for their needs, and they want to share. Others, convinced that the money will not be used for good, look the other way, and refuse to give. Wherever we stand on the issue, we will, from time to time, have the opportunity to evaluate our decision. Every city, every town, everywhere we go, there are unfortunate people who beg for money.

Whether or not to give money to these people is a personal choice. If we decide to give, we are offering a blessing. We are extending our hands to help. We are being charitable. The decision of what happens with the gift after it is given belongs to the person who receives it. If it is used for good – the decision is on them. If it is used for other things – the decision is on them as well. They are accountable for what they do with the gift, not us. We are accountable only for offering the gift. Anytime we are charitable and kind, anytime we offer assistance, anytime we help in any way, we are blessed. Our decision is noble. It is worthy, and it is selfless. And our decision is the only one we answer for.

I keep five dollars in the ashtray of my car to use if the opportunity arises where I may give to someone in need. Since I don’t smoke, the ashtray has been used for nothing else. The money is there, and ready if I feel prompted to help when I see someone asking. Sometimes I get a feeling that it’s not the time, and I wait. Other times, the five dollars is theirs. As it passes hands, I always bless the person and wish them well, and without exception, they return the blessing back to me. Most of the time as I drive away I have to choke back tears, not because I’m sad, but because I realize, again, how much I have.

Today if you see someone seeking help, asking for money, think about where you stand. Remember, the gift, if you offer it, is your blessing to them. What they do from there is their decision. But the blessing remains as a testament to your kindness and charity. And the world certainly needs more of those. If you aren’t the one out on the street begging, no matter what the circumstances are, your life is better than theirs. Don’t forget that.