Recently I read an inspiring book entitled, ‘The Priority List’ by David Menasche. Suffering from a slow growing brain tumor which over the course of six years took his mobility, memory and most of his vision he was forced to quit teaching. Rather than retreat into a world of self pity he decided to use the time he had left and truly see if he had made a difference in the lives of the thousands of students he felt fortunate to have taught. Ultimately, the lesson of gratitude weaves through his own life over and over from the letters written to him by his students.
At first blush you might think this book would be depressing but it is far from it. It is a true story that forces us to get out of our own heads for a bit and just think about how our own actions in life can have such an incredible effect on others. It also helps us see the importance of appreciating what we have rather than grieve for what we do not.
Being grateful, seeing our cup as half full rather than half empty has been linked to increased levels of happiness and overall life satisfaction. It has to be an incredible challenge to be grateful when you are facing a fatal illness. And yet, there are those special individuals who just find a way to exhibit gratitude for the little things and people they encounter in the moments left in their lives. Their attitudes can serve as a wake up call for us and serve as a model for a life well lived.
When you know someone that just has the capacity to appreciate with awe and appreciation the basics in life, doesn’t it just make you feel lighter, and more energized? What if… just what if… we decided to take just one day, one hour or even a moment to recognize all the things we have to be grateful for and remember with gratitude the people who have been there for us. As Rabbi Harold Kushner said, ‘if you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.’
If we don’t learn to practice gratefulness it doesn’t matter how much we have because it will never be enough – we will constantly want to have something more or something new or just basically something else.
This poem on being thankful really says it all.
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times,
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.
It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
And they can become your blessings.
Have a great few days!