As I reflect on 2014 and what I’m grateful for this year, two situations quickly come to mind. The first occurred when I traveled to rural Liberia in April to the village of Wredyu Town in Grand Bassa County. The people there had absolutely no clean water. They didn’t even have clean water to bathe with. They were forced to use the same water to drink and cook with as they used to shower, wash clothes and use the bathroom in. This virtually brought tears to my eyes. I’m grateful because I know that I’m no different from them. I was just born into different circumstances.
The other situation that comes to mind is when I was on the Metro last month. One evening, a man got on the train in a wheel chair. He positioned himself near one of the poles and took out a bottle of water. He then asked the lady in front of me to open his water. He handed it to her with his right hand. She opened it and then the man grabbed for the bottle and top with his right hand. The lady carefully placed the top between his fingers. The entire time that he was on the train, he only used his right hand. Given that he was in a wheelchair, I think that it was safe to assume that he couldn’t use his feet, but he also couldn’t use his left arm.
Think about both of these situations for a second. Imagine if the only water you had to drink was the water in the toilet that you had just used? Or imagine if you could only use one limb? How do you think you would feel? Now think about the fact that you have so much access to clean water that you don’t even think about it before you drink a glass. And think about the fact that you can use more than one limb. When I think about it, I’m overwhelmed because I have a lot to be thankful for. How about you?
We often go through our day complaining about work, our families, our commute and everything else that stresses us. Unfortunately complaining will not change any of our circumstances. However being grateful for what we have can make a huge impact on our perspective and outlook on life.
As we close out this year, what are you grateful for? Is it your family, your career, your health, the fact that you woke up this morning? Let’s be grateful for the big and small things. As bad as your situation may be, it sounds cliche, but it really could be worse. You could be like the man on the train or the children in the village with no clean water.
In 2015, I encourage you to adopt an attitude of gratitude. To make your gratitude practice most effective, write down five things that you’re grateful for every day in a journal, but make them as specific as possible. The purpose of writing them down is so that you can reflect on them in the future. Many times when we are going through challenges, we forget our victories. Being able to reflect on your journal will remind you of what you have overcome. As we head into the new year, will you adopt a new attitude – one of gratitude? I sure will.
Happy New Year.
**P.S. I went with a friend of mine, Checago Bright-Sawo, to Wredyu Town because he was building a well with a hand pump to provide clean water to that village. If this cause touches your heart, as it does mine and you’re interested in donating to his charity, please visit his website here.