Life has a way of knocking a person down so that better times can be appreciated more fully. Generally, I am one who practices gratitude more than most. Yet, I have the abundantly human trait of taking things for granted.
Five days ago I woke with a scratchy throat and runny nose believing I had a head cold. By mid-day I was home from work with what turned out to be the flu. Only today did I feel well enough to head to work for a while, however it will still be a day cut short. The worst is over, but the illness is not gone. Now’s the time to take care and not overdo it, else the flu settles into something else just as bad or worse like a pneumonia.
Adding credence to the thought “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone”, is my attitude today. I am thankful for the portion of my health that has returned even though I am still dragging. What I have is temporary and all will be normal soon. The incident serves as a reminder to appreciate good health more while I have it, for without a doubt one day an illness will be far more serious.
Imagine you are standing on the 70th floor of the Empire State Building, gazing at the cityscape. Suddenly a rather large man brusquely pushes past you, wrenches the window open and announces his intention to jump.
You yell out, “Stop! Don’t do it!” The six-foot-five figure turns to you and menacingly says, “Try to stop me and I’ll take you with me!”
“Umm… No problem, sir. Have a safe trip. Any last words?”
“Let me tell you my troubles,” he says. “My wife left me, my kids won’t talk to me, I lost my job and my pet turtle died. So why should I go on living?”
Suddenly you have a flash of inspiration. “Sir, close your eyes for a minute and imagine that you are blind. No colors, no sights of children playing, no fields of flowers, no sunset. Now imagine that suddenly there’s a miracle. You open your eyes and your vision is restored! Are you going to jump? Or will you stick around for a week to enjoy the sights?”
“I’ll stay for a week.”
“But what happened to all the troubles?”
“I guess they’re not so bad. I can see!”
“Well your eyesight is worth at least five million dollars. You’re a rich man!”
If you really appreciate your eyesight, the other pains are insignificant. But if you take it all for granted, then nothing in life will ever truly give you joy. Rabbi Noah Weinberg
Perspective is the key to living a grateful life I have discovered, just like Rabbi Weinberg illustrated in his story. Paying attention to the good I possess along and realizing there’s a lot of “bad” I could have, but don’t, are key reference points for keeping my head straight. Being far from perfect, I can’t do it all the time. I fail and get down about things like anyone else, but I don’tstay there. Recovery from the dark side of lacking gratitude is usually relatively quick. That’s a far cry from my days of wallowing in what I saw as my miseries.
Just a small thing like the flu can carry a lesson if one is open to learn it. I am grateful for the little wake up call!
We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come
as a result of getting something we don’t have,
but rather of recognizing and appreciating
what we do have.