#23 Gratitude, Mortality, & Disaster – A Perspective on Healing

We live in interesting times. Our world is at a standstill. Our economy is temporarily silent, people are dying, and families everywhere are trying to make light with a single matchstick. Tough times are upon us. I say, invite the struggle. See it as a blessing. Take this time to make your mind stronger, more resilient, and better suited for other hard times.

Below are 3 different ways I express gratitude. Of the things I learned in the subject of self-awareness, gratitude is one of the easiest and most available tools at our disposal. It changes our mental makeup so we can live more peacefully.

1. Be grateful for what you have and write it down

Before I began the workday I take a piece of paper and quickly make it a point to jot down a few things I am grateful for. This simple act of acknowledging and appreciating what I have has changed my mood for the better. I recall when first doing this exercise 2 years ago. I couldn’t stop crying because I realized how much I had to be thankful for. This practice takes all but a few minutes but has the potential to make your entire day better.

Today I was grateful for:

My wife — She does so many things for both of us every day. I am beyond lucky that I get to share my existence with her.

My family — I am grateful I can call on them at any time and that our bonds are growing stronger despite our distance.

My health — I am grateful that I am able to choose to live a better life. I will not take the gift of my body for granted. I will make sure it gets exercise every day and is fed nutritious foods.

Being a part of existence — I don’t know why I exist. I don’t know why the planets move around the sun or what happens when we die. Despite all my confusion, I am grateful because I am here, existing.

2. Understanding mortality

What if today was your last day? You may view this type of thinking as too extreme. Some may even call it morbid. I assure you it’s quite the opposite. The fact is, no one knows when their last day on Earth is. I contemplate death often. When faced with a tough situation in my life, I’ll ask myself earnestly, “If I were to die tomorrow, would this bother me?” The answer has been no thus far. In the face of death, little matters, and the truth is we are dying a little every day.

Say if tomorrow was your last day, how would you behave? You might savor each morsel of your breakfast. You might smell the fresh air and feel the wind as it graces your skin in a cool, calm like blanket. You might call a friend or family member to talk about unimportant things and say I love you before hanging up.

Our existence is finite and can be taken away without permission at any time. It’s one of the stark realities of life that few want to think about because it may conjure up fear, but for me, death has given rise to life. I wake up every day thankful that I get to see another day and with this energy, I aim to make every experience, no matter how mundane or important, a meaningful one.

3. Paint a story of disaster

About 9 million people die of starvation every year. Imagine being one of these people. Imagine you had terminal cancer, lost your family in a tragic accident, or some other event that that would drive your life into a neverending pit of misery. Picture the worst-case scenario. Be in this horrendous and agonizing state of despair for a few minutes if you can.

Now bring yourself back to this moment. Perhaps this exercise helps you see more value in your current place. Perhaps it may even make you thankful for the problems you have. The truth is, there are billions of people around the world that would consider it a miracle to walk in your shoes, even for a day.

I’ll do this every now and then when I hit hard times. It gives me perspective. I know I am privileged. The basic necessities like food, shelter, clothes, health, and family are also the necessities of joy.

Some of what I shared may seem dark. It may seem as if I’m coming from a place of negativity. This is not my intention. Being grateful for what we have, knowing that we got dealt a better hand than billions that suffer daily just to make ends meet, and knowing that death can happen to us and those that we cherish at anytime is acknowledging the truth.

Be true to yourself and know that you are wealthier beyond measure and that all roadblocks in life are temporary.

With Love,

Anand Swamy

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