The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller
A bestseller, Let’s Hope for the Best by Carolina Setterwall recounts the intensity of falling in love with her partner Aksel, and the shock of finding him dead in bed one morning. It tells the story, baldly, of an adult relationship. Carolina and Aksel meet at a music festival at the turn of thirty. Upon meeting him, Carolina (Carro for short) thinks “you’d make a really good cartoon, the kind that makes you happy to look at.” Tall and lanky, he has “the hottest jeans-legs I’ve ever seen” and works as a freelance IT technician. She works in concert production, and when she casually lets slip that she’s worked with AC/DC a couple of times, he doesn’t react. She plunges headlong into a passionate relationship with him immediately, anyway, falling for him hard, completely and utterly from the get-go. Things move fairly quickly. She persuades him to move in with her, then into an apartment she has bought, then getting a cat, then conceiving a child.
To tell you this now is to give nothing away; Carolina gets up one morning, goes to wake him, and he’s dead. It happens on page 15.
My message today is simple: Your life can change in an instant. So don’t take another minute of it, or the people in it, for granted.
Recently, I have had close relatives and friends, lose family. As I walk with them, trying to understand why the loved left, trying to make meaning to the loss I am reminded that death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.
I am reminded daily to create good memories with those who have been gifted to me. I have chosen to share kindness daily with as many people as I can. I do so because death hangs over us. It lingers in the space we cannot touch. And in the blink of an eye, in the flash of a second, it can capture us and strip us bare of the most precious blessing of all: The gift of being alive. I feel that the limited life I have is a gift to show goodness for all of God’s creation!
If there’s one thing you should be grateful for, right here, right now, be thankful you’re safe and alive. The breath that rests in your lungs, the blood that swims throughout your veins, the heart that throbs with all its might to carry you onward into another moment’s grace — that is the greatest gift you have.
You’re alive and you have no knowledge of when your air becomes thin. All that you know is that you’re still alive. You’re still here, safe on earth, breathing oxygen for a reason. You still have a purpose to serve. And your sole job is to yield to the flow of life, to honor that purpose passionately, and accept that your life can change in an instant; so don’t take another minute of it for granted.
Here are 5 examples of powerful gifts, grace and blessings we receive on daily basis, and that we can be truly thankful for:
1. The Gift of Life
The odds of your being born in this particular time, place and circumstance is about 1 in 400,000,000,000. That’s how precious you are. You happen only once, and even if you don’t particularly like yourself, or appreciate your authenticity, you truly are a precious, unique creation of life as we know it.
You are still alive today despite all the odds. Just this makes you an ultimate lucky winner in life.
2. The gift of a Family
“Family” means something different to every single person reading this post. Some of you truly feel your family is the greatest blessing in your life. Count me in that group. But others have a different view of family. For some, thinking about their family can be extremely painful. What constitutes a family will also be different for everyone. The people each of us might consider to be our family members often extend beyond blood relations.
If you’re struggling with certain family members, take heart in knowing that all relationships require work. It may seem like everyone around you comes from a perfect family, but most people are dealing with wounds you can’t see on the surface.
We need to forgive our family, thank our family and recognize how lucky we are to have exactly the family we have. The blessings we got from them are infinite, so what could we thank our family for right this moment?
3. The gift of Health
Our ability to see, hear, touch, taste, navigate in space, feel pleasure, run, sing…. All of these are available thanks to the fact that we are healthy to some extent.
Putting yourself first doesn’t come easy for many, especially during the holiday season. Yet, self-care is a crucial step to feeling healthy, balanced and more able to give to others. This year, find ways to take care of yourself so that you can take care of the ones you love.
- Find time for you. Find at least 15 minutes daily to recharge without distractions. Read a book, sit outside, or try a yoga class.
- Get enough Z’s. Sleep is often underrated, but is the most valuable component of self-care. Establish a bedtime that allows at least 7-8 hours of sleep and set smart phones, tablets and screens aside.
- Eat well. When your body doesn’t have the nutrition it needs, or if you aren’t eating enough, you have no fuel to feel energized, leading to stress and irritability. Carry healthy snacks and stick to healthy balanced meals.
- Stay hydrated. Even slight dehydration can cause headaches and fatigue. Carry a water bottle and sip regularly throughout the day to keep your brain working effectively.
- Leave work at work. Carrying the stress of work to your home life can lead to chronic stress. If it’s not an emergency, remember that it can be handled in the morning.
What is the most precious gift your health keeps giving to you? Would millions of dollars be enough to buy that gift from you? Doesn’t that make you a kind of a multi-millionaire?
5. The Gift of God’s purpose for your life
Have you ever considered your talents and gifts? Do you get a kick out of soccer? Are you a strategic thinker? A great listener? Can you motivate others to action with your words? Are you skilled at building things? I suggest making a list of the things and activities that interest you in which you excel. You can also ask yourself, “What’s the one thing that I do better than others?” This can also clue you in to your God-given purpose.
The gifts God gives us are like little seeds planted inside us, but for them to grow we have to use them. This means that if you can’t identify which “Gift Seeds” God has given you, try doing new things that interest you. Through these new experiences, God will reveal more to you about who you are and how He has called you to serve Him.
Take a moment to recognize how wealthy you are and how abundant your life really is. By appreciating what you already have and feeling grateful for it, you can avoid the feeling of lack that comes from being focused on what you don’t.
5. The Gift of Serving Others
Every moment of your every day carries a potential for deep transformative change. All it takes for this change to happen is for you to do something different from what you did before.
We are, as humans, absolutely blessed with a tremendous potential for greatness. We are creative, productive, knowledgeable, influential, inspiring but we often do not know that about ourselves and that is why we get stuck in doing the same things over and over again. We set limits to our impact and contribution to this world.
The good news is we can change. By being aware of that capacity and feeling the gratitude for it we can rise above our self-imposed limitations and actualize our deepest potential.
What are some of your talents, skills, dreams, interest that you have been neglecting and taking for granted lately? How would your life change if you invested in them and believed in yourself?