The Power of Gratitude and Purpose
One day a couple of years ago, I was alone with my eldest daughter and we were having dinner together. She was telling me that she was unhappy with her French teacher, who was over 60 years old and came to class and spoke for the entire 50-minute session in a monotone voice and then went away. There was silence at the table for a few minutes before she said, “He is not teaching me French, is he? He is teaching me patience.” My eyes popped out from hearing such wisdom coming from a 15-year-old.
As I reflected upon it more, I realized that I too was creating and exaggerating stress in my mind by repeatedly thinking of the negatives from the past and reinforcing them. This substantially reduced my resilience and led to what I now call “the toilet bowl strategy”. My life was like a brick wall with a hundred bricks, all of them perfectly aligned except for one or two that were a little crooked or out of place. I was spending my whole life focusing on the bricks not in place and paying absolutely no attention to the ninety-eight that were perfectly aligned. I realized that the events in my life were what they were, but that it is how I react to those events that determines how I feel about my life.
As Oscar Wilde once said: “I had many problems in my life, most of them were created in my head and never actually happened.” What I needed to do was, like Jacqueline, become a willing student and learn from the hardships in my life and also be more grateful for the life I had.
And that’s what I did. I started shifting the focus of my attention from the negative thoughts in my mind to recognizing all the wonderful things I have in my life:
1. I was so fortunate to be born in a family where values and character were pivotal and fundamental to existence (I still remember stories from my childhood which my grandmother told me about kings that would always keep their word even if they had to lay down their lives for it).
2. I have four wonderful children, each one very different from the others, all of them very beautiful in the core of their beings, and each possessing exceptional talent but, more importantly, exceptional character.
3. I am grateful for the unbelievable team that I have had the great fortune to work with for the past 25 years (trust was always the basis of our relationship and some of us will celebrate 25 years with the company this year).
4. I have two ex-wives who put me through what at the time I called hardship, but now I realize that they taught me so many lessons that I would definitely not be the person I am today without these lessons – they were my teachers.
5. I am so grateful for the caring extended family and the amazing friends in my life, but above all I am grateful for the opportunity to share the little that I have with those who have not been as fortunate.
If I were to go back and live my life all over again, I would not change anything at all………
I have realized that the more I am appreciative of and grateful for the life I lead, the happier I am. That if I keep my attention on gratitude, I do not see the one or two bricks that are out of place on my wall. I have found that my brain has only a single track, so if I fill it with positive thoughts, there is no space left for the negative. Earlier, I was filling it with so many negative thoughts that there was no space for gratitude. I now focus on the ninety-eight perfect bricks and am a very Happy man.
The happier I am, the more I share. The more I share, the happier I am. INSPIRE HAPPINESS has become the purpose of my life and that of Zatisi Group. Inspiring Happiness for all of you but also Inspiring Happiness among the poorest of the poor, the half of this world living on under two dollars a day. I am engulfed by this snowball of gratitude, sharing and happiness.
Today I see that my life presents me with three kinds of opportunities: the opportunity to enjoy, the opportunity to share and, when things go completely wrong, the opportunity to learn (hurrah!). I have realized that I need very little and am fortunate to be able to live my life from a space of gratitude and opportunity, rather than from a space of fear and anxiety.
I have now clearly understood that THE HAPPIEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD DO NOT HAVE THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, THEY JUST MAKE THE BEST OF EVERYTHING THEY HAVE but it took me a while to get here.