“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
In my Christmas message yesterday, I said that I hoped – after a day of laughter and decadent food – you would take some time to count your blessings. If you were too sleepy to do so last night, take the time today to reflect on and be thankful for some of the gifts you may take for granted:
- Your Health
Next to life itself, health is the most important thing. Keeping your health, therefore, should be your most important goal. Examine what you are doing to maintain good health. Are you eating well? Sleeping enough? Getting sufficient exercise, socialization, and sun?
If you don’t spend time trying to stay healthy, you can’t complain if you wake up one day very sick.
- Your Mental Well-Being
Happiness comes from two habits. First, you must spend a good deal of your time working on something you value. Second, you must avoid thinking about (and especially feeling sorry for) yourself.
Be honest. Do you really care about the work you are doing? Is it something you’d do anyway (and for free) even if you didn’t have to work? Ask yourself: “Do I frequently find myself thinking about how tough my life is? How much easier things would be ‘if only’?”
Depending on your answers, you may need to consider making big changes in the coming year.
- Your Family and Friends
Life is endlessly ironic. The way friendship works is no exception.
Some people treat friendship like a seesaw, always looking to make sure both sides are equally weighted. But that’s not how it works. You get more out of a personal relationship by putting more into it. So don’t worry so much about getting your equal share. Focus, instead, on what you can give.
- Your Financial Well-Being
The love of money is addictive and destructive. A sensible pursuit of wealth, on the other hand, is a necessary good. Wealth gives you the means to accomplish your goals, to take care of your needs, to support the people for whom you are responsible, and to make important life decisions with confidence and independence.
- Your Personal Accomplishments
Make a list of the things you’ve done that you’re proud of. Think about what you can do in the future. So long as you are alive, you have the capacity to create and to achieve.
- Intelligence and Ingenuity
Even if you don’t have the wealth you want or haven’t accomplished all your life goals, be thankful that you have a sound mind and natural ingenuity. Use these gifts shrewdly and there will be no limit to what you can do.
- The Things You (Really) Enjoy
We all want to like the better things in life (art, literature, fine wine, etc.) – but we have personal passions too. Even guilty pleasures. Sentimental music. Old shoes. Greasy food. Don’t be embarrassed by them. Be grateful that you are able to enjoy them.
Most important …
Be thankful for the freedom you have to think your thoughts, to feel your feelings, and to dream your dreams. There is no one else in the world exactly like you. You are a unique being – a wonderful cluster of energy that has never existed before and will never be again. Enjoy the greatness of your very particular, very special, very wonderful existence.[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]