I have heard a million times that “Life is not perfect” and this is accurate. We face very real problems every day. We all have our “why me” moments – the kids cry, the laundry piles up, the dog is under our feet, work is uncertain, and bills come due at the worst times. Let’s face it, life is messy. Everyone is going through something, seen or unseen, and all the little things add up to serve as a distraction. These things whisk us away from the “perfect life” picture we created in our mind and dump us where we would rather not be – reality.
As we begin to compare reality to the illusion we created as to what a perfect life looks like, it tends to bring various responses–anger, attention seeking, frustration, sarcasm, and a jaded outlook of where we are. No matter how far we have traveled, we somehow forget and tend to focus on what should have been, could have been, or was supposed to be. It is all too easy to fall into the trap and become consumed with what we missed, what we lost, or what we can’t have.
Several times in my life that notion of what should have been came to a crashing halt and made me wonder “why me?” Working in a call center for the better part of my life, I know I am not alone. In fact, I hear of these struggles from others every day. Some are situational and some are self-created, but it goes to show that life is far from perfect. So, how do we move closer to that picture in our mind and the quest to find a more perfect life?
We train ourselves to focus on what is right in a world of wrongs.
As simple as that statement is, it is much more difficult to put into practice. I am going to take a page from my father’s playbook and share something I was witness to that might put this into perspective.
During the lockdown, I had the honor of having my father here at the house in Kentucky. He started every day in the family chat room with a good morning, a thought of the day and morning smile, followed by questions of what our plans were. After I was done working every night, we would enjoy a home cooked meal and recap the day, the news, and the little frustrations of life. It was a nice routine, followed by a quick cleanup of the dinner mess before settling in for a nightly movie.
As some of you know, I started to post my own thoughts of the day and daily laughs on my Facebook wall. One evening, as part of our nightly conversation, dad asked why I started doing this. I let him know that I started it as a way to let people know they were not alone – which at times I felt. I thought it would be a passing fad, quite honestly, but I received heartfelt feedback that the morning laugh made others smile when they wanted to cry, or the thought of the day resonated with them somehow. As a result, I kept it going. It seemed to have value and if I can help shed a different perspective for someone or help shine a light on a dark day, that was more of the person I wanted to be.
That night dad picked the movie and he loaded up “The Ultimate Life.” We watched it and rather than going off to bed when it was over, we sat and talked. He started telling me like the movie he counts his blessings, but he does it twice. Confused I asked him why he did it twice. His response put things into perspective for me. He said he counts his blessings in the morning, which was keeping up with our lives, and he used that blessing to remind him to look for the little blessings throughout the day. He gently reminded me there was always something to be thankful for. If you have followed dad for any length of time, you know that his blessings were not always extravagant. Sometimes the blessing was an odd shaped shadow spotted on the wall, watching Angelina dance in the snow, or the beautiful patterns of the clouds in the sky. Dad took time to notice everything and everyone around him – and he was thankful. With that, his nightly blessings were born and added to his website.
Life is not perfect, and yes there are struggles we will face. But we can create a perfect life simply by counting each moment as a blessing, looking not at what we do not have but being grateful for what we do. For me, those simple things include a roof over my head, food in my belly, a silly dog to keep me company, and a vibrant sunrise to remind me that the world is bigger than we can see. There are blessings all around us. Living simply to find and enjoy those blessings shaped a man who lived his life without regret. He appreciated all things and savored every moment and now it is our turn to follow in his footsteps.
As you may have noticed, we have continued to post our blessings on Facebook each night as a way to carry on Wisdom 2.5. I want to extend an invitation and challenge for each reader to send us your blessing for the day too. Let’s partner together and share with others how living simply and being grateful can really change the lens we view the world in. That is wisdom from my father. May it reach far and wide.
~ Joe Jr.