Harvey Mackay: It's never too late to appreciate
Once upon a time there was a little dog that was unhappy with his life. As he lay in his backyard, he spotted a cat on top of a wall. “I wish I could climb walls like that cat!” he thought.
Walking by a pond, the dog saw a goldfish swimming in the water. “I wish I could live in the cool water like you,” he said.
The goldfish replied, “I wish I could roll on the grass like you.”
Later he spotted a sparrow in a tree. “I wish I could fly like you!”
The sparrow replied, “I wish I could play all day long like you, instead of having to gather twigs to build my nest and spend all day searching for food.”
The dog met other animals during his walk, all complaining about their lives. Finally, he realized his life was good, and started appreciating everything he had.
This story from the February 2021 issue of “Bits & Pieces” sums up the importance of appreciating what you have, which you may not realize until someone reminds you. When you think you have it tough, consider that many others are much worse off and would gladly change places with you.
My friend Jack Canfield said: “By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you’ve achieved – and perhaps learned through a few mistakes, stumbles and losses – you actually can enhance everything about you. Self-acknowledgment and appreciation are what give you the insights and awareness to move forward toward higher goals and accomplishments.”
We live in a materialistic and competitive society. Often people see what others have, and they want it too. Similarly, we compare ourselves to others. But do you know what happens when people try to keep up with the Joneses? They refinance.
It’s important that we continue to live in the moment. Remind yourself of all the positives in your life: family, friends, job, health, talents, hobbies, prized possessions, cherished memories and challenges you have overcome. I’m willing to bet that your list will be longer than you imagined.
Look at the wonders of the world around you. Go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air. Find a distraction to help you reset your attitude. My wife and I have taken an interest in bird watching and put several feeders out. Golf is another big release for me.
Getting together with friends may not always be advisable right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t talk to buddies on the phone or through Zoom meetings. Socializing is important.
Whenever I’ve had difficult moments in my life, such as starting my envelope manufacturing company years ago, a visit with someone who was sick or having difficulty would snap me back into reality and help me appreciate everything that I had.
That’s not advisable these days, but there are other wonderful opportunities you can explore. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or foodbank. Be a Big Brother or Big Sister to a child who needs a role model. Record books for the visually impaired. Lending a helping hand to someone less fortunate enables you to appreciate what you have, so embrace the power of giving. You can never take life for granted.
Develop a gratitude mindset. If you are not grateful for what you have, it is doubtful you will be grateful for what you will get. THANK U is a college from which we should never graduate.
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others,” said the Roman philosopher Cicero.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to smile. The world always looks brighter from behind a smile. Maybe that’s why it takes only 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown. My mother always told me that a smile is an inexpensive way to improve my looks. And I remember fondly one of her favorite bits of advice: “If you’re happy, tell your face.”
John Lennon, the legendary member of “The Beatles” said: “When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
I couldn’t agree more.