My wife Gimalle and I have long enjoyed our Friday night ritual of going out for dinner.
Two weeks ago we joined another couple at one of our local restaurants and thoroughly enjoyed an evening filled with great food and much laughter. Gimalle and I had chosen to share a pizza and in my normal gluttonous way, having forgotten the extraordinarily large portion sizes this restaurant was known for, I ordered the largest pizza on their menu.
Needless to say the old adage of “your eyes are bigger than your stomach” rang true and despite our best efforts – particularly mine – we were only able to consume half of this mammoth meal.
We asked to have the rest of the pizza boxed up to take home with us.
On the way home we agreed that neither of us wanted the pizza and decided to seek out a homeless person to give it to.
We stopped when we noticed an elderly man in a wheelchair outside a Mac’s store counting change from his pocket.
I got out of the car and offered the pizza to him. He very graciously accepted with profuse thanks and I noticed a small tear rolling down his cheek.
It was not a particularly cold night nor was it one in which I would choose to spend much time outdoors and this poor man’s lot in life was to battle daily for survival from the confines of his wheelchair.
Something had obviously gone so wrong in this poor man’s life.
We talked for a few minutes, I wished him well and returned to the car.
I couldn’t stop thinking of this poor man alone in a wheelchair outside and it made me realize how much in my own life I have to be grateful for.
As I was thinking of my own good fortune it dawned on me how little time I, and I suspect most of us, spend in being grateful for all that life has given us.
In my day job I frequently speak with people who share with me their anguish at what they don’t have in life be it financial freedom, job security, loving relationships, good health etc.
Many of us tend to dwell on what we don’t have rather than acknowledge with enormous gratitude what we do.
The vast majority of us will never experience hunger, poverty, destitution and while we will certainly all experience setbacks, challenges and the occasional crushing blow, for the most part, we have the means, resources and support to work our way through these ordeals.
Many of us, myself included, take for granted the abundance our Canadian lives have given us.
We live in a country that provides each of us access to one of the best health care systems in the world. This is not true for the vast majority of the planet’s population.
We are safe and secure within our borders. Much of the world isn’t.
We have an abundance of healthy drinking water. Every day more than 1,400 children die from lack of access to safe drinking water. That is one death every minute of every hour of every day.
Most of us sleep each night in warm beds within comfortable homes. More than one third of the world’s population subsists on less that two dollars per day.
We have everything we could possibly need and almost everything we could possibly want.
And we don’t spend enough time expressing or gratitude for all we have.
I am ashamed of how often I have spent time dwelling on what I don’t have, having minimized and discounted everything I do.
Perhaps if we all committed some time each day to feel and express our gratitude for all we have it might soften our hearts and nudge us to reach out more often than we do to help those who don’t.
That night I made a promise to myself – a pledge if you will – that I would devote time each and every day to reflect on how grateful I am for all that I have.
Having met this commitment each day for two weeks I can only tell you that my awareness of my own good fortune has grown immensely and my anguish over what I don’t have has all but disappeared.
I’m going to continue this practice and invite each of you to do so with me.
I would like to form a group – The Grateful Living – and urge all of you to respond to this blog and tell me you’re joining me. Perhaps if enough of us do this, and in so doing influence others to join us, we can collectively do a lot of good in the world.
Are you in?
Till we read again.