A woman recently told me that her life is so hard; she just doesn’t know whether she will ever be able to get past her personal challenges and achieve her dreams. Her particular challenge is weight loss (she tells me she gains 5 pounds even being in the same room with a chocolate éclair). “It’s easier for everyone else around me,” she says, “they can eat whatever they want and still be thin.”
A man recently complained about the pressing weight of legal problems that have robbed him of peace, opportunity and needed financial resources. Still another explained to me that his lack of education was an insurmountable obstacle that kept him in the realm of mediocrity.
Although it often seems that other’s have it easy compared to our own problems, the truth is that everyone on this planet, no matter what his or her background or education, whether in wealth or poverty, fame or isolation, social prestige or obscurity — everyone will, at one time or another in their life, have challenges, heartbreaks, and obstacles so devastating that they wonder if they can go on. Sometimes these challenges are easily discerned and we mourn with our friends and family and associates. Others suffer quietly and privately, but just as severely, as the world marches on seemingly oblivious to their pain. If you haven’t experienced yours yet, just wait a little. It is part of the nature of life on planet earth. Many of us get so discouraged and depressed when these challenges occur that we feel we simply cannot go on. Many give up on their dreams.
The good news is that these difficulties are just one part of life. It can also be rich and beautiful and fulfilling. Your success and happiness in life depends on your ability to focus on the good and deemphasize the difficulties. That’s it; easy to say, but very difficult to do when we are disappointed and discouraged. There is a key that will unlock this ability in you. It is so simple that you may not think it is of much value. Try it anyway and you will discover what thousands of top performers know. This key is gratitude.
We all, each of us, have talents and skills, tools and abilities, aptitudes and experience that are unique and valuable. We can see with our eyes, hear with our ears, analyze with our minds, touch, taste, teach, love, and learn. We have friends and family; we are surrounded by opportunity and splendor if we seek for it. Those who learn to count their blessings – to foster an attitude of gratitude – will find that the world is a friendlier place to live.
One day Helen Keller — blind, deaf, and for many years speechless — said: “Recently I asked a friend who had just returned from a long walk in the woods what she had observed. ‘Nothing in particular’ was the reply. How is it possible, I asked myself, to walk for an hour through the woods and see nothing worthy of note? I, who cannot see, find hundreds of things to interest me through mere touch. I who am blind and deaf can give a word to those of you who can see. Use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind. Hear the music of voices, the song of birds, the mighty strains of an orchestra as if you would be stricken deaf tomorrow . . . Smell the perfume of flowers, taste with relish each morsel as if tomorrow you could never smell and taste again.”
Think of the good things that God has blessed you with. Consider what (or whom) you might be taking for granted. Take stock of the talents that you have, the skills you have developed, and the experiences that you enjoy. Remember, what’s wrong is always available–but so is what’s right if you’ll just choose to concentrate on it. As you do, life’s difficulties–discouraging and heartbreaking though they may be–will seem a little less poignant. You will regain hope and confidence by garnishing your daily thoughts with thanksgiving and gratitude for what you have.
Success Tip: Take 5 minutes every morning to think about the good things in your life. Fill your heart with gratitude for the people, the opportunities, and the abilities that you have. Pull up an image in your mind, one at a time, of each individual that is important to you. Consider each talent or ability that you possess. And, be thankful.