Karr, a French novelist from the late 1800s is credited with this quote. I guess this is kind of like looking at life through “rose colored glasses.”
You probably know someone like Karr. No matter what negative thing happens to them in their lives, they seem to spin it in a positive direction. “It’s all good,” they often say.
I think we need to begin to look at the things in life that we can be thankful for. Today, my Steelers won their 7th game in a row, starting the season at 7-0 which, last time it happened, was a Super Bowl victory year for them. Even if they had lost today against their hated rivals, the Ravens, I was thankful that my Purdue University junior, Jonathan, was sitting beside me watching the game. Grateful.
“None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” —Fred De Witt Van Amburgh.
De Witt grew up in the countryside of New York state. His most famous talk was one titled, “How to Fail” (couldn’t we all give that talk?). He speaks about how one day he was on his farm, and two businessmen approached him. The one had just been complaining to the other about the state of business and the other commented on how he could hear the sound of the crickets. De Witt contrasted the two and said he would rather be in the company of a pole-cat than a pessimist. He equates pessimism with fatality. (If you don’t know what a pole-cat is, it’s a highly noxious, disease ridden, poison-spitting vermin that farmers have to deal with). While Karr loved to smell the roses, it seems De Witt believed that listening to the crickets is just as important.
I recall one of my children feeling concerned about attracting attention to himself with a zit or flood pants are something trivial. I said: “You do realize that no-one will be looking at you, right? They will be more concerned about themselves than you.” The arrogance that children have bought into today with pervasive “selfies” and posting of every moment of every day is sickening. I call it the “Kardashian-ing” of society. We used to call them “posers”.
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.”
-Corrie ten Boom.
Corrie ten Boom knew all about suffering and about betrayal. Her family was instrumental in hiding and saving hundreds of Jews during the suffrage and German occupation of the Netherlands in WWII. Fellow Dutch families betrayed her family, and they were imprisoned and suffered immense hardships. In the depth of suffering and betrayal, ten Boom knew of the fatal effect of worry on the soul. Corrie shows where her strength came from in this other notable quote from her:
“There is no pit so deep that He [God] is not deeper still.” Finally, ten Boom has a message we all can learn from when she said: “Happiness isn’t something that depends on our surroundings…it’s something we make inside ourselves.” Ten Boom knew how to be grateful in the harshest of environments. (You can learn about Corrie and her life story in the book and movie titled: The Hiding Place. Be prepared for your life to change).
One of the most challenging things mankind has difficulty with is in forgiving themselves for mistakes that they have made. Some suffer a lifetime for a mistake that was made in their youth or during a time of weakness of character. Often, the suffering is a result of their unwillingness to forgive themselves even when those that they hurt no longer harbor ill feelings. I’m a huge fan of musician Zach Williams. Zach, a man who once struggled with drugs and alcohol, freely shares how he has dealt with his personal life struggles and failures.
Charles Dickens and Zach Williams share the same life philosophy. Dickens is recognized for saying this: “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Everyone loves the wisdom of the legend Willie Nelson. Here is Willie’s philosophy; “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”
My challenge to you is this: work on gratitude. Begin to see the little good things that add up to good big things. Some recommend placing a book at home, a Grateful Journal, where you and your family can log entries of gratitudes.
I’m grateful today that so many of you regularly read this column and frequently reach out to me, it warms my day.