Good Evening beautiful readers,
This morning while reading the first few chapters of ‘The Happiness Project’ I remembered a quote I’d read a few days ago which said “It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy”. As I sat there in the quiet sipping coffee, my hair all wild from a wonderful night of sleep, it clicked. Be thankful. Be happy.
As a young child my grandparents taught my younger sisters and I to be thankful for everything we had. We didn’t have the newest games, gadgets, or clothes, but we had family, we had food, we had shelter, and we were loved. Don’t get me wrong, we had things, plenty of things but it is very easy for a child to want MORE things. Actually let me rephrase that, it’s easy for all of us, at any age, to want more. The problem isn’t the act of wanting more, ambition is fantastic, it’s when you do not appreciate all of the amazing things in your life because you want bigger, better, newer. Not to mention forgetting what truly matters in life to focus on that new camera you’ve been eyeing.
When I was 10 or 11 years old, our family home burned to the ground. I can still remember that sick feeling of waking up to find I no longer had a house, all of my toys were gone, everything I owned other than what was in my overnight bag had been destroyed. I was devastated. We all were.
It was early January, and my dad was in the hospital 3 hours away for surgery. Mom had come home this particular evening to help my aunt because she was also ill, and to pack bags for me and my sisters to stay with my grandmother. We had considered sleeping in our home because it was late, but rather than dealing with the dishes, etc in the morning, we slept at my grandmother’s house which was only a 3 minute walk from my parent’s home anyway. After I went to bed that night, my mom saw the flames.
I honestly, cannot imagine the stress my mom was feeling. I remember her sitting me down to explain the fire, that everything was gone, and that I needed to be brave for my younger siblings.
I was so angry. How could this happen? WHY would this happen? Christmas was only a few weeks ago, so all of our presents were gone! My bed was gone, my shoes were gone, the list went on an on. The more I agonized about all of the belongings I’d lost, the more upset I became. Finally my grandmother sat me down and told me to look around.
She then explained that the ONLY things I should be worried about were present in the room (minus my dad who was in the hospital) for you see, my mom and sisters were sitting there and ultimately our safety mattered much more than any piece of furniture. She also said that when neighbors called, not once did they ask about the beds, the sofas, and the clothes that had burned because they were replaceable instead they wanted to know that WE were okay.
This fire haunted me for many years. It was a hard lesson for a child to learn, but I became stronger because of it. I learned the true meaning of community that year, as everyone we knew, and plenty of people we didn’t came together to ensure we had food, clothes, toys, etc. Because I was only 10 I am sure I missed so much of what happened and what was said, but through it all I kept thinking that my mom was a superhero, she didn’t cry once about her lost belongings.
Did I miss some of my toys? Of course I did, i’m human. Did I learn to be thankful, TRULY thankful for the things I had after that? Definitely.
I’d like to close with something I’ve never shared with anyone. This moment brings tears to my eyes as I type it because I remember it like it happened yesterday. I know it has helped shape me into the person that I am. When my dad was finally released from the hospital he rushed towards us with tears swelling in his eyes. I noticed the tears, so I asked if he was sad because he lost all of his movies? And he looked at me, and said “Not even a little, none of that matters because you’re safe. I am so thankful nothing happened to my girls. No amount of movies in the world can replace you. They’re only things. Don’t forget that.”
And I didn’t.
So, how does this tie in with that random quote? Well, it’s easy to stop being thankful for everything we have. I’m not referring to the clothes, the shoes, and the gadgets, although those are nice, because ultimately they do NOT matter. We need to be truly thankful for those things in life that matter. Only then may we be happy.
I am thankful for my parents.
I am thankful for my sisters.
I am thankful for my husband.
I am thankful for my health.
I am thankful for living in a Country where I can be free.
There are so many more things, and so each blog post from now on I will tell you something else I’m thankful for. Try it. It feels incredible. Why not leave a comment and tell me why YOU are thankful.
Be well beautiful friends.