“You who are on the road / Must have a code that you can live by”
– Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s ‘Teach Your Children’ (ibid., 2)
Sometimes I wonder how I can write something ‘up’, when I’m feeling ‘down’. I’m sure everyone has experienced less than positive feelings from time to time. My solution is to write a list of all the things in life, for which I’m grateful.
To quote Robert Burns, “I hate the language of complaint”.
Although, everyone’s list would be different, you may have to look hard for it. Once you get going, however, it’s quite remarkable how long the list can be.
My own list includes:
- A loving wife and three special kids … and, what’s more, they love us back!
- Relatively good health
- Two (and counting) terrific grandchildren
- Friends: the old Russian proverb is true… ‘Better a hundred friends, than a hundred rubles.’
- A creative 2nd career
- A passion and outlet for writing
- Time for a classic hobby
Again, I think Burns summed it up best: “A decent means of livelihood in the world, an approving God, a peaceful conscience, and one firm trusty friend – can anybody that has these be said to be unhappy?”
Some people will always see their glass as half empty, but they should remember the old adage:”I felt sorry because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet”.
So, what would your glass-half-full list of blessings look like and how often do you count them? I think if we’re truly honest (bad habits to the contrary) we would find lots of reasons to simply count ourselves lucky.
A new twist on this comes from The Smile Epidemic, a digital media company located in Waterloo, Ontario, whose new software enables you to daily share what makes you happy. Simply post a digital photo of yourself and their app lets you superimpose a sticky note about anything that makes you happy. You then go on a 30-day mental diet –weeding out negative thinking and developing an ‘attitude of gratitude’ – changing the one thing you can control.
The psychology behind it is quite sound, because studies have shown that half of our sense of well-being involves our DNA; the other half involves self-determination. Oftentimes, we’re not really who we think we are … gradually convincing ourselves to see our life-glass as half empty. Maybe we think this way is being realistic or adult-minded, yet are we really that unhappy? Have we put away all childish things… including fun?
My four- year-old grandson, Kolton, loves playing make-believe, nursery rhymes, baking cookies and beating me at computer games, yet I know what makes him ticklish.
“And you of tender years/ Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by/ And so, please help them with your youth/ They seek the truth before they can die” .2
Maybe children can afford to be that way, because they really don’t know any better. If that’s the case, do we not need somebody to show us the way … who has actually had the faith to live their love? Or, is that type of trusting too naive?
“Maybe there’s a God above / But all I’ve ever learned from love / Was how to shoot someone who outdrew you” – Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’
From children, as the eternal story goes, we learn that perfect love means unconditional acceptance … is there any other way?
Fred Parry / www.fredparry.ca (2013)