Last week I went bowling with members of a group rehabilitating after suffering a stroke and this experience reminded me of an essential feeling that can sometimes be overlooked: Gratitude.
It was a stimulating event with three teams of seven people, both members and volunteers. I usually meet up with the members at a communication centre where we work on re-developing their skills in writing, reading, basic maths and communication, amongst others. You can imagine how different it was on the bowling day! We were cheering and clapping like kids on holidays. We played like equals. It made no difference that some members did not have full control over one side of their body given that only one arm is used for bowling …
As we got ready to leave, I helped a man to put his shoes back on and I tied the laces. A lady needed assistance to strap her seatbelt. These short moments reminded me to be grateful for everything I can do, however big or small, that make a huge difference to my life. How would it feel to be unable to make a cup of tea? Have a shower? Get dressed? Do the grocery shopping? Waves of gratitude flowed through my body as we left the bowling centre. Since that day I feel blessed to be who I am. When I compare my difficulties to everything that I can do for myself, my life is a real gift.
Our true potential
This experience also triggered some questions such as when we ask for somebody’s approval before making a personal choice. This is not to be confused with asking for advice which is a positive thing that helps us view matters from another perspective. If we can be autonomous in life, why do we wait for approval before trusting our potential? If we can tie our shoelaces and stand up on our own feet, we have the power to achieve anything.
Sometimes nothing is ever enough, especially when we start comparing our life to others. We have a nice house but we want one bigger than the neighbours. We earn a good salary but we want more than our colleagues. We have elegant outfits and jewellery but we need more expensive ones. When we aim for higher in life from a place of motivation, not envy and comparison, we can achieve our goals. However, if we keep comparing to those who have more, no matter how much we progress in life, it will never be enough. On top of that, the chances are strong that by being too focused on what we want, we overlook what we have and forget to enjoy the present moment. As the saying goes, ‘have what you want and want what you have’.
Offering from the heart
One of the best ways to remember our blessings is by helping those who are not as lucky. A multitude of organisations across the globe support people with physical and mental disabilities, life-threatening illnesses and tackle poverty, famine and abuse. Charitable donations help to a large extent. When we donate money, clothes and food, we experience a well-deserved sense of fulfilment from having made a difference in other people’s lives.
Working face-to-face with people in need makes a difference at a soul level. A connection that goes beyond the material world takes place. We are investing time and energy. We are contributing in many ways by offering physical assistance or simply by listening. We can now put a name and a face to what would formerly be known as an orphan, a disabled person or a woman in need of chemotherapy. We become part of what is happening and this is when compassion emerges from a deeper place.
As the heart opens wide with unconditional love, it creates space for self-recognition.
It is a divine moment when we become grateful not only for everything that we have
but also for who we are.