Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Our circumstances have nothing to do with our happiness.

Sick or healthy. Rich or poor. Thin or fat. Tall or short. Curly haired or bald. None of it matters when it comes to waking up happy everyday. What does matter is gratitude and perspective.

What makes a man rich? It is not money. There are plenty of poor people – “economically challenged” – that feel wealthy in ways that are beyond their wildest dreams. They are ‘loaded’ with family and friends, rich in experiences, and participate in life like tycoons. They are showered in immeasurable riches of making a difference to someone and to the world in which they live. These are the people whose vocabulary does NOT include phrases like “I will be happy when…”, or I would e happy if…”

These people know that there are two keys to happiness. Those keys are gratitude and perspective and they go hand in hand.

Gratitude comes from the recognition of just how much you already possess. Gratitude is the opposite of taking things for granted. The challenge for most people is that they don’t know what to be grateful for where gratitude begins. There are hundreds of items on my list. Below are some of my favorites.

1. Eyes to see and read
2. Ears to hear and listen
3. Arms to hold. Hands to touch
4. Mind to think and understand
5. Heart to feel and care
6. Roof overhead & bed to sleep in
7. Food to eat and tongue to taste
8. Friends to care for & care for me
9. Family to love & spend time with
10. All of my good health. (Other than my MS, I have a lot of good health that I don't take for granted.)

These are all items that you can’t buy and that cannot be taken away from you. Even if I lost one of these, say sight or hearing, there is still much to be grateful for.

Recognizing the value of these assets is a matter of perspective. What’s your perspective? Where does your gratitude begin? Just how rich are you? It is my hope that if you are reading this, you are already a very wealthy person.

Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.

If we pay attention, Life can be a great teacher.

I feel extremely fortunate to have a deeply rooted belief that everything in life happens for a reason. That belief allows me to see value in every circumstance and situation that life has to offer. I may not like the situation, and that is very different than whether it is of value or not. Let me explain how that works for me…..

I know that I tend to over-simplify. The truth is that most of life’s circumstances are very simple. It takes people like us to complicate matters. That said, I have reduced the reason for everything that happens in life to one of two things. They are:

We have something to learn.
We have something to teach.

Truthfully, and more often than not, both are true. Knowing that allows me the opportunity to view all situations as being of value. What is the reason and the value for every challenge we face? We get to decide that for ourselves. Sometimes the reason is abundantly clear. Other times it is not. Even when it is not clear, trusting that there is a reason or purpose, or value, makes accepting the conditions of life easier to do.

Why do I have MS? My list of reasons is very long. I have learned not to take the good health that I enjoy for granted. I have learned to value the relationships in my life at a level beyond any I ever could have dreamed of. For the most part, the experience of living with this disease has been a lesson in GRATITUDE. That lesson alone allows me to wake up as a happy man every day of my life.

Do I have something to teach as well? You bet. As a parent, nothing is more important than what I can teach my children and the best approach to doing that is always by example. What my children see is that although I may have a disabling disease, my life is still, rich, full and I am still able to participate and make a difference in this world. I am pretty certain that these lessons have extended well beyond my family too.

Do I feel challenged by my disease? Absolutely. Yet, I have never felt sorry for myself. I have too much to learn, too much to teach, too much to gain to spend any time feeling sorry for myself.

The big question is this: What do you have to learn? I hope plenty and that by seeing it all as being of value, you can and will teach too.

Better yet, what have you learned already? I hope that you will let me know.

Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Living with a disability – What a blessing.

I have MS – Multiple Sclerosis. Since being diagnosed, the disease and my disability have both greatly progressed. I used to be a jogger. Today I use a walker or wheelchair to go anywhere. I used to drive and work 50 plus hours a week. I no longer drive or work. I used to make a very good living. Today I live on disability income. I have always been a pretty happy guy. Today, I can honestly say that I am happier than I have ever been.

“Being happy no matter what” is what this blog is all about. This experience of living with a disability, has taught me more than I ever could have learned in school, or from books, or from a life without incident. I want to use this blog to share what I have learned, discuss perspective and gratitude, debate my concepts and beliefs and hopefully create, cause or impact you, the reader, to see your life and circumstances differently.

Over time I hope to demonstrate these few things:

If we pay attention, life is a great teacher.
Circumstances have nothing to do with happiness.
This “glass half empty – glass half full” concept is baloney.
The greatest asset that we all possess and our greatest challenge in life are one in the same.

There will be much to discuss and more topics to talk about. I hope that you will join me, participate with me, share with me and teach me as we embark upon this journey.

Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.