In our fast-paced digital, increasingly technologically oriented world, it is so easy to take things for granted. As a practicing therapist, I often encouraged my clients to practice ‘mindfulness’. We spend so much time and energy focusing on the past or the future, leaving little time to really capture and enjoy the present. Frequently we see what we expect to see. Our attention may be focused in one direction, so we might miss what’s right in front of us. I need to remind myself of this.
My husband and I fight. My son’s a butthead. Too many rainy, gray days discourage me from enjoying activities. The internet’s to slow. My dog is in pain. I worry about my children’s futures. I’m anxious about the economy. When did that sagging skin appear? I’m overwhelmed by the violence, poverty, and hatred in the world. The list is endless. See how easy it is for negative thoughts to manifest themselves?
I remind myself of the serenity prayer. “G-d grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.” Truer words were never spoken. It’s time to focus on the positive aspects of my life. Truly there is much for which I am grateful.
My family is healthy. While our house need a lot of work, I’m happy we have a house in which to live. Seeing the mountains on the horizon is spectacular. My husband is supportive. I have the freedom to espouse my views. I’m appreciative that I have choices…what or where to eat, what do read or watch, which car to drive, where to go. I have the means and ability to travel. I’m thrilled to have the privilege of glimpsing other cultures.
Travelling to Myanmar was a humbling experience. With a repressive military government for almost 50 years, the country suffered enormous hardships and world isolation. It is inspiring to witness the dawning of the modern age arriving in Myanmar. As in much of the world, there is tremendous poverty. Many don’t have indoor plumbing. Health insurance is non-existent. Most people don’t get past middle school. In spite of those hardships, the people are friendly. They are quick to smile. Tourists are welcomed. Rather than focusing on what’s missing, they appear happy for what they do have. Family is important. Parents care for, and make time for their children. It’s safe for women to travel alone. What I did not see was the omnipresent sense of entitlement that is all too pervasive in our culture. We had a wonderful opportunity to meet and talk with some locals. The common thread is optimism for the future.
So I am truly blessed to be born in a relatively stable part of the world where opportunities abound. I’m grateful for having had loving parents who gave me a sense of belonging, the ability to question, and showed me the importance of education. I’m indebted to my family for their unwavering support and encouragement. I’m thankful to enjoy laughter. The happy smiles of my grandchildren as they play are heartwarming. Taking the time to look, I see reasons to feel gratified everywhere. With every fiber of my being, I am truly grateful to be alive.
I’d love to hear about what makes you feel blessed.