Last week I was talking to a friend, just casually catching up on life, and chatting about how busy we are all the time, and how we miss the good ol’ days when life was easier. She paused for a moment and then got very serious on me, so much so that I was worried for a moment until she broke her silence. “You know, she said, I’ve often thought my life was hard, and I’ve done my share of complaining about it. But recently things have been put in perspective.”
If I had to guess, I believe everyone reading this is more fortunate than they realize. You have a home, you have food, you have furniture, pots and pans, plates and forks, photo albums, books, magazines and lots and lots of stuff. Am I right?
Sure, maybe you don’t have EVERYTHING you want. Maybe you can’t go on every vacation you want right now. Perhaps you have to wait another year or two before getting a new car, or maybe you can’t get the home you dream of. Still, you are VERY fortunate. You work hard, I’m sure. And, some days you may wonder if the frustration is worth it, but you DO have a job. You have money coming in to pay the bills. And, maybe your family, friends, and/or partner can be difficult at times. In fact, maybe “difficult” is putting it mildly! But, you have people in your life – what you choose to do with them is up to you.
When you look at your life you may think it’s hard, and I’m not saying it doesn’t feel hard, but consider another perspective. My friend has been helping a refugee family from Burma, and they have taught her a lot about a “hard” life.
They escaped from Burma with nothing. Their family includes 5 kids and both parents living in a 2-bedroom apartment, with little more than the few clothes they own. They don’t have a car, but rely on old bicycles to get them around, and they’re very grateful for those bikes. The father has a disability that affects his fine-motor skills, so he can’t work. Although, even if he could work, he doesn’t speak English, and has no real skills. They were given some curtains, but didn’t have curtain rods. They were given some frozen cookie dough so they could bake the kids some treats this summer, but they didn’t know how to work the oven, and they didn’t have a baking sheet or spatula. Their life here is hard, every day is uncertain, and they left behind all their family in Burma. Still, they’re better off here, with nothing, than they were in their home country of Burma. In Burma, life was indescribably, unfathomably hard.
So, when life seems hard and you’re feeling down, frustrated, depressed, or angry, stop and think about how lucky you are. You may not have everything you want, but you have more than many people could imagine. There are countless people who would trade their best day for your worst. When you think about it, how hard your life seems depends strictly on your experiences. If you haven’t experienced life in a poverty-stricken, war-enraged country, your idea of a “hard life” is probably much different than that of a family that escaped to an unknown country where they don’t even speak the language.
My friend told me she has figured out that the best way to deal with a hard life is to be grateful for it. I have to agree.