Jan Philips van Thielen
How many of us have learned to count our blessings? How many of us even realize how many blessings we have? How do we measure them? Do we measure them against our next-door neigbours -- keeping up with the Joneses? Do we measure them against our own expectations? I don't know the answer to that. I do know that for many people -- not all people, but many -- being happy or sad is a choice. I have learned that from my own personal experience. Several years ago I fell into a deep depression. I am not normally a depressive person, so it was unusual for me. I had gone through a stretch of time where several people close to me had died, including my husband, my father and a close friend. I was a single mother and I experienced financial difficulties. Then came a stretch of a few years where I lost my mother, I lost my job, and I was recovering from a life-threatening illness. All of a sudden, my "get up and go" got up and went. I fell into a psychological collapse; I had no more strength. I felt as though I were stuck in the mud at the bottom of a very deep, dark ocean. No one wanted anything to do with me. Doctors filled me with medications that just made everything worse.
One day a little spark inside me flared up. I took all the medications and flushed them down the toilet. Then I started going for walks, and I noticed wonderful bunches of tulips on display outside the markets, and I started buying a dozen tulips at a time. I took them home, put them on my coffee table, and enjoyed their beauty. Did you know, there are over 150 types of tulips, each more beautiful than the last. As I sat looking at those tulips, it occurred to me how much beauty there is in this world, and often we are so mired in our day-to-day existence, we don't notice the beauty all around us, including in our own lives.
I have had so many people lately crying on my shoulder about the sadness in their lives, I wonder if they ever take the time to notice that they actually have more blessings than they realize. Much more, in fact. I think we have been conditioned by marketers to believe that our cups are half full, rather than half empty. We need more, more, more. Fill up those cups. Buy this, it will make you happy. Buy that, it will take away the blues. The only problem is, it doesn't work. Because the things we actually need to make us happy cannot be bought.
I learned long ago to "make do" with less than most people have. I don't own a car, I don't own my own home, I don't even own a cell phone. To some people this would be devastating. To me, it doesn't even matter -- oddly enough. When I hear people crying in their beer about the things they don't have, I marvel at the things they do have, and I wonder why they can't see it. I live in Vancouver, so one of my blessings is to have a good umbrella and a pair of waterproof puddle jumpers. Small blessings, I know, but to me they are important. It's not the big things in life that count, but the small things, the things we overlook. Did you have a great cup of coffee this morning? Did you laugh at a silly joke someone told you? Did you step on the scale and notice the number had gone down a
Depression is a serious clinical disease, and should be medically assessed, diagnosed and treated. And it is treatable. I am not making light of those folks who do suffer from such illnesses. But chronic malcontent is something that is within our grasp to change. We have a choice to be sad or happy. Me? I prefer to be happy, or at least content. Serenity is good too. There is a prayer used by the folks in Alcoholics Anonymous that I think everyone should recite every day.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Now, my wonderful bloggy friends, if you're feeling sad today, please, go out and buy yourself some tulips.