For the past 14 years my office has been in a small, family-owned office building and the lady who manages the building, a member of that family, stopped me the other day in the hallway to give me a progress report on the ongoing and challenging battle with colorectal cancer that a close and dear friend of hers is waging.
A few weeks ago, I accompanied my wife Gimalle, a retired police officer, to a hospital to visit a long-time friend and acquaintance of hers, a serving police officer, who is battling breast cancer.
Recently the wife of a client of mine called to share with me the sad news that her husband had had a severe heart attack and while he had thankfully survived, his life is now forever changed.
And yesterday morning my heart was broken when a long-time friend called to tell me that he had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
What struck me about my friend was not so much the devastating news but rather what he said to me after he had shared his news. And what he said afterwards mirrored the conversation I’d had earlier this week with the lovely lady who manages the office building.
He said that as he drove home from the doctor’s office his mind was filled with only one thought. It was not that he had just received a death sentence. Instead, it was a sense of sadness that over the many years of his life he had spent so much time taking the blessings in his life for granted and so little time being grateful for all that life had given him.
A few days ago when my landlady brought me up to date on how her friend is faring, she and I had a lengthy discussion about how much we take for granted and how little time we spend in gratitude for all the wonderful things that life has endowed us with.
Few of us escape this life unscathed. Over the course of our lifetimes most of us are faced with challenges to overcome, problems to solve, setbacks to turn around and disasters to survive.
And often while we are battling these monsters we forget to stop and take stock of all the good things that are occurring in our lives.
We focus on what we don’t have, on what’s not working, instead of feeling huge gratitude for what we do have, for what is working.
And often, when our lives are moving in exactly the direction we wish, we frequently forget to show gratitude for all we have.
I realized yesterday that I have spent far too much time bemoaning what I don’t have or what I can’t do and far too little time (in truth, almost none) in gratitude for the enormous gifts that life has given me.
At times I have been consumed by anger at the results my own poor choices have yielded rather than being grateful for having the ability to make other, better choices that could improve those situations.
I spent several years choosing to be depressed while struggling through a challenging respiratory illness, not once remembering to be grateful for living in a country that provided me access to the best health care in the world – health care that gave me a new lease on life.
I seldom remember to be grateful each morning for waking up in a warm bed and for having a safe, comfortable home to return to each evening. There are many who don’t.
I could easily fill many more pages with lists of my ingratitude but – and this should fill you with gratitude – I won’t. Instead I spent some time this morning beginning a list of all those many gifts that God and life have given me I resolved to set aside time each and every day to focus, with deep gratitude on the wonderful life I have.
I hope you will do the same.
Till we read again.
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