How many can you count?
When was the last time you took time off from your "complaints time table" to thank your creator for everything going on for you in your life? This is a question I had to ask myself last evening after spending time with a certain lady, young enough to be my mother, but so bogged down by excessive baggage from her past that she looked like my grandmother......
In 2004, this lady lost her husband leaving her with four children, all school going age. Eight years later, except for the last born who is in first year in a local university in Tanzania, all the other three children are technically self-reliant. Other than successfully managing to take all her kids to school even though she is a widow, this woman has alot of assets in terms of land and property.
About three years ago, fate struck her another blow when she discovered she was diabetic, and as a result of this condition, she lost her partial eyesight. As if that's not enough, her second born son who she laboriously fought for until he went to the USA to study seems to have taken a lazy pill and all he does now is hang out at jobless corner from morning till near-morning, clearly showing no sign of applying himself and the knowledge acquired while abroad. All these things accumulated over the years have left this lady with a bitter taste in her mouth.
As a human being and as a woman and mother I feel her pain. It is so hard to think straight or see anything positive when there's so much negative stuff surrounding you. You get irritaged and angry at everyone around you because they just don't seem to understand what you are going through. Infact, you choose to be alone and if you must have friends, they must be in a state as sorry as yours, (if not sorrier) so that when you meet up, you can all have one big pity party. Anyone knows this feeling? I do because I have been there, done that but just in the nick of time, my sorry friends and I decided we'd had enough of the pity parties and it was time to have celebration parties - True story.
If you are in this situation, the first thing that comes to your mind is the question "But how do I get out of this situation?". And I will be honest enough with you to tell you this: "It is not easy, but you have to have reached that point of saying enough is enough, then you will be willing to take the necessary steps to move out of that hell-hole you are in." I remember days when we'd meet up at some club to just share our miserable stories and in the process, those who used alcohol would drink their misery down but at the end of the day, nothing would change because whatever needed changing was not the surroundings, but us; the human beings.
When we eventually decided "enough is enough", the first thing we did was to look at what was really ailing us and though we all had different stories, the one common factor was that we were so busy focusing on the negative, that we had no time to focus on the positives in our lives. Yes! There! I've said it. Like someone said, if you go out looking for trouble, (read negativity) then do rest assured you'll come across tons of it; some of which you hadn't even asked for. But that's just the law of life..... you attract what you are. (Ouch)
So as I was talking to this lady last night, I decided to challenge her and asked her to take me on a challenge I wanted to throw her way. Considering that all she does now is stay at home since she retired a while ago, she was excited to have something different to do.... She was probably expecting me to tell her to do something very challenging and mind boggling, but mine was very simple; all I asked her to do was to write eight (8) things she is grateful to God for, for the next thirty days, every day from today (22nd August 2012). As soon as I said that, you should have seen her eyes..... let's just say it was a sobering moment for me too and as I left her house, I was quite pensive.
This lady may have lost her partial eye-sight, but she is still able to read and write. However, she is so concerned about the partial sight that she forgets it could have been worse; she could have had total blindness! What about the diabetes attack, instead of being thankful to God that it was only diabetes and nothing much worse, she was too busy asking "why me" instead of thanking God for giving her a second chance in life. You may look at this woman and wonder what's wrong with her but the truth is, none of us is any better; we all forget to be grateful for what we have. We so focus on what we do not have, or what is going wrong that we really do not realize how many great things are going on for us; how many blessings we have in our lives. For instance, you might be complaining that you have no car, but what about that person who is just wishing they had legs to walk with? You probably are complaining about your job and though it pays all your bills, according to you it is mediocre, but have you considered that person who has been tarmacking looking for a job for the last seven years?
We need a complete paradigm shift of our minds; we need to stop focusing on what we have not and instead be grateful for what we have lots of. The only way to actually realize how many blessings we have is by doing the same thing I asked this lady to do; take a pen and paper (or gadgets for those who have been blessed with them but are too busy looking at the negatives to even notice them) and write as many things as you can that you can be grateful to God for. Start with "simple" things like the ability to breath, see, laugh, cry, etc and progress to the greater ones like the 4-car garage that holds some mean looking machines, your 5-figure monthly salary (in USD), etc.
At the end of the day, regardless of what you think, the blessings, the positives and the great things in your life will most definitely out-number the negatives/problems/challenges in your life. My challenge to us in this post is one........ Every day you wake up, as you are going about your day, count your blessings and not your problems. Be thankful for everything (both good and bad), and always remember, it could have been way worse.
Now I know what that sunday school song meant..... Count your blessings name them one by one...