A couple of weeks ago, I was supposed to take an ACLS class in order to apply for a full-time position as a registered nurse. I definitely was not happy to be up at 7 am on a Sunday after getting off work the night before at 1am for an 8-hour class that cost $160. I bitched and moaned about the whole thing on my way to the class. Before I got there though, I decided I would stop at a 7-11 across the street and get coffee.
Outside of the 7-11 was an elderly homeless man humming to himself, and as I walked in he told me I looked really nice. I got my coffee and was about to continue to my car when he asked if I had any spare change. All I had was a dollar bill, which I handed to him. He looked at me incredulously and said, “I asked for some change, I didn’t think you’d give me a whole dollar!” He thanked me until I got in the car and in my rear-view, I saw him smiling and waving to me.
I honestly couldn’t believe someone would be that thankful to receive a single dollar. And there I was complaining that I would be in an air-conditioned room for most of the day with coffee, taking a class I needed that would further my career. Sometimes people can remind of the important things in life, like gratitude.
Life is stressful and even painful at times, and I’m not saying we have no excuse to being upset when shit hits the fan. But it’s so easy to focus the things that go wrong in our lives. The relationship that didn’t work out, the number of hours spent at work to pay bills, the family member who is difficult to be around. And I get it; sometimes things in life just aren’t fair. But there is also a lot to be thankful for, too. In my case: My health, my career, my friends, and the fact that there isn’t a day I go hungry. The list can go on.
But I’m learning to be grateful for the experiences that didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to. Although in the moment it really sucks, the lessons I’ve learned and continue to learn about myself during hardship are things that make me who I am and I can’t think of anything more beautiful than that.
The older I get the more I realize that there really won’t be a time when life is problem-free, although, at other times, it can be racked with problems. Practicing gratitude and learning to be thankful for every day that passes, any lesson I’ve learned that day, or the good things that happened, can make life so much easier to deal with.
It’s really difficult at times, but I’m learning to be more like that man outside 7-11 who has no money and sits in the beating sun; but nonetheless, hums to himself and compliments strangers who walk by, just thankful to be alive.