Learning to Appreciate What You Have..When You Do Not
How’s that for a convoluted title? Hopefully, by the end of this post it will all make sense. As we go through life it is very easy to take what we have for granted. It’s always there, even if we have to work a little harder for it. Because of that we assume that it always will be. Mom and dad always provided to make sure that we had food on the table. We had jobs that enabled us to provided sustenance for ourselves. Yet, all it takes is one adverse event and in the blink of an eye everything can change.
When I left the Air Force in 1985, I left the security blanket that the military provides. You always had housing, food and medical care and you never had to worry where your next meal was coming from. It was readily available in the mess hall whenever meal times rolled around. Your paycheck showed up every month and even if you blew all of it, you still had a roof over your head and food in your stomach every day. Leaving the military, I was suddenly faced with the reality that I had to pay rent, buy food, take care of bills and all the things that come with living on your own. All of that on a part time job and the reality was startling.
There was a period of time where after taking care of the necessities there just was not enough left for food. I would get up and go in my kitchen and it would be completely bare. I would go days without eating and at 5’11 and a 27′ waist, there was not a lot of room for weight loss. Fortunately, my parents lived a few hours away. Although I hid the fact that I was going through this from them, I eventually did tell them and the tongue lashing that I received was well deserved. When I would go and visit them they would make me go in their pantry and “go shopping” for food and I would take bags of food home with me when I would return.
Eventually, I got a full time job and things turned around. Going through this trying period was painful, but it was a lesson I do not regret. It taught me the importance of appreciating what you have and showed me the realization of what it is like when you don’t. It helped me build on my compassion for people that struggle and find themselves without. Our program manager Linda tells me all the time that she constantly gives thanks for the things she has. She gives thanks for her food, her health, her housing, her family and all the blessings that have been bestowed on her. It is equally important that we do the same.
My hope is that you will never have to experience what I did to learn to appreciate life’s blessings. Learning to appreciate while we have, often prevents us from finding ourselves in a circumstance where we are without. Take a look at your own life today and if you haven’t shown appreciation recently for all the things surrounding you, make a point to do it. When we appreciate we open up the opportunity to not only sustain what we have but create room for more.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.