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Frederick Keonig, a German inventor best known for his high-speed steam-powered printing press, said, “We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
As I contemplate the question of what I am truly thankful for in my life these days, I am aware that my answers to that question are in the process of evolving.
This “thankfulness evolution” may be, in part, because over the past four years, I’ve lived in five very different countries: United States, Ecuador, Chile, New Zealand and now in Australia. Each country I have spent time in has deeply influenced my understanding of both myself and my world. I’m truly grateful for that perspective.
Without the constant, unrelenting pressure to focus on building my former business My Real Voice, or my next goal, my next job, my next accomplishment, with the constant struggling to make ends meet living in the U.S., I’m no longer living in constant fear, however irrational, of what many women I have spoken with also fear: ending up totally broke, and a “bag lady” out on the street.
Without all the previous professional pressure, I’ve had the incredible luxury of time. As a result, I’ve completed three full books, as well as revisiting creating art and music again. I’ve even taken up a new sport: kite boarding. Since I left the U.S., I am so grateful that this gift of time has kept my mind active and focused on being productive, learning new things, and creating beauty in the world.
I find that now I discipline myself to focus only as far as the light shines on my next Now moment, which is our only point of true power anyway. As a result of that practice of mindfulness, I feel grateful that now I can truly see the remarkable beauty of my life – right now – in this moment, instead of waiting for the “right” moment, or postponing my joy.
I’ve also had some time to truly rest. In this new, more rested openness, I now create much more time for deep reflection. As a result of this period of rest, I am seeing and feeling all the blessings from the many opportunities and adventures of my life, that before, I was missing all along the way.
I’m beginning to see my entire history and the people who have passed in and out of my life in a very different, and much more compassionate perspective than before.
Recently, I read an article by Sina Anvari, titled, “Nurse Reveals The Top Five Regrets People Have On Their Deathbed.”* It struck me as I was reading it, that I have been working a long time to understand my own relationship to these five regrets she talks about.
Over her many years working in palliative care, many people have spoken with her about the following five things when they are dying:
When I look at all the choices I have made over the course of my life, I can see many of these five potential regrets actively at work. I lived a life I thought others expected of me. I worked too hard. I did not have the courage to express my true feelings. I did not make time to stay in touch with friends. I did not let myself be happier, as happiness seemed like a luxury that I could not afford.
But Sina Anvari also said in her article, “I’ve learned never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal.” I feel right now like the choices I am making are offering me a new opportunity to grow. Phenomenal changes are at work within me right this very moment.
I suppose it doesn’t really matter why any of this is so. The blessing for me is that it is so at this moment in my life.
I also feel thankful that I have the capacity, as we all do, to grow even more from here.
For all of this, I am deeply grateful.
From Me To You
I found it really interesting that many people Sina Anvari worked with did not realize until the end that happiness was a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits, in both their emotions and their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. Deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
When we are on our deathbed, what others think of us is a long way from our mind.
How wonderful it would be to be able to let go and smile again, long before we are dying.
Since life is always a choice, how do you choose consciously, wisely, and honestly in your own life? What are you grateful for at this moment in your own life?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.