Gratitude - A Life Changing Perspective!
I had the blues because I had no shoes until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet." - Denis Waitley
A few years ago someone in my office told me about his aunt who had an accident. A reckless driver rammed her car straight into this unsuspecting bystander. The incident was over in a flash, but it changed her life completely. Severe head injury left her completely paralyzed. Her son recalls this incident with a combination of suppressed anguish and sad resignation. The lady young, once considered the life of her family, was all of a sudden a vegetable in bed.
A life turned upside down
It’s over 20 years since that fateful day! She can barely speak, and can only have semi-solid food in small quantities. But it’s a struggle most of us can barely comprehend. A struggle for her, and the family that takes care of her. A small bowl of mashed food takes her two hours to eat even with all the help she can get.
A parent’s unfathomable pain
My father’s cousin had a daughter with a medical condition, since birth, which left her incapable of any movement at all. For almost 15 years they took care of her literally like a doll; doing everything for her… yet not seeing even the slightest meaningful response from her. She did not make it past her 15th birthday. And for all those 15 years they knew nothing could be done for her except to keep her alive and comfortable. I could never fathom the pain this heroic couple went through every minute of all those years…and every minute of all the years since her death.
There are some human experiences almost beyond consolation.
When I became a parent I realized even more how unimaginable their pain was! What a spear in their heart it must have been when doctors told them that their little baby would never be able to do anything normal, and that she would very likely not live more than a few years! In the last months of this child’s life I happened to visit the family. And
I can never forget the image of her limp, lifeless body. Corpse like in every way except that she was indeed alive. By this time, her features and body were severely distorted. A sight many would shudder at. Months later she died.
Situations and circumstances like these make me think again and again about every little blessing I have - which I often take so much for granted. For some people, merely brushing their teeth, getting dressed, or having a meal is a daily challenge. For those taking care of an old, ill, or physically challenged person is an unending test of their patience, will, and hope.
A change of Perspective
Many of us fret about little things we don’t like; for instance some food we don’t much fancy. We can stop a minute to think about those who cannot even swallow food but depend on tubes inserted into their bodies. Or think about the many who have no food at all!
Many of us complain about our jobs, our countries, our finances, or even the little chores we have every day. We can pause a moment to think about people, for instance, with severe breathing disorders, or those on a ventilator. People for whom just one breath (the simplest, most natural, and essential function of our bodies) is a frightful struggle! Thinking about people who suffer more than we do can have a very powerful, transformational effect on how we live life.
Can we acknowledge and appreciate the greatness of the heroes around us battling such challenges? They find the courage to live each day with hope, patience, and fortitude.
Can we learn to be grateful for what we have rather than focus on what we don’t? Can we count our blessings with a genuine sense of contentment?
If we can re-shape our outlook to view everything in life with a feeling of humble gratitude, it will empower us with an unshakeable sense of contentment and peace. I believe gratitude is not just good to have when we feel good about things; it is truly a necessary paradigm for a fulfilling life.
As Robert Brault said, “Enjoy the little things… for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."