Grateful for the Little Things

We sometimes think that the big things are what matters most or that they are the things that will fulfill or make us happy the most. But as I sit on-board our return flight home from a family holiday to the Island of Malta, I couldn’t help but reminisce about all the great highlights of our week; ranging from sibling competition to affection, moments of tranquillity, at the sight of the mighty Mediterranean seas to moments of chaos, while using public transport in an unknown and busy territory, and from interesting discoveries of historical events recorded in the Bible to a whetting of our physical and retail appetites.

Despite all the varying events that added colour to our week, it is the first time in a long while that I have taken time to stay in the present and not rush through what’s on my to do list. To be completely honest, I was tempted but I maintained my resolve to enjoy the present. As such, I was able to see the fun, beauty and lesson in every delay, bicker, excursion and detail. This was to such an extent that the things that would normally wind me up became amusing to me. For example, I hate it when people moan, as I like to see my glass half full rather than half empty. Therefore my reaction when my kids moan usually is to correct them about the behaviour. But instead this time, I didn’t correct them but gave them a nickname that they would be called throughout the holiday should they be caught complaining. Shall I tell you what these names were? Moaner 1 and Moaner 2. So whenever either or both of the kids complained about anything, I would call them by the name, which simply means to moan or complain and instantly that did the trick, and they would stop. In the end we all started laughing at the nicknames. To be honest, they are good kids who don’t complain much. But kids will be kids.

As humans we generally tend to mostly appreciate things when they are no longer available and it’s just the way it is unless one has made a conscious and deliberate effort to be grateful for every thing and in all situations. When it rains, we wish the sun would shine, when the sun shines too brightly, we earnestly desire mighty rainfall, when married after a while, some miss the unrestricted freedom that accompanied their bachelor/spinster days, when single life becomes lonely and uninteresting, some desperately seek to get hooked at all cost and the list goes on and on. However we can be grateful for everything and every little thing if we train or re-train ourselves and minds to consciously be grateful for where we are. It is hard to get to where we are going if we cannot be grateful for where we are.

On the flight back home, an interesting conversation ensued between the kids and I. I’d asked them if either of them would like a cup of tea as I’d wanted to order one for myself. To my surprise both of them were profusely grateful for the offer and this made me chuckle to myself. The reason for my chuckle was that all week we were bombarded with offers of tea/coffee or juices but not once did we touch the complimentary tea tray in our room because it was too hot where we were. I mean, we were moving around in temperatures ranging from 35-45 degrees. Therefore drinking a hot tea would have been torture. But here we are in a freezing cold airplane and suddenly the same tea that was seen as a bad thing just a few hours before became the lifeline for their cold and freezing bodies. We could have been grateful for the tea even at a time when we didn’t need it with the understanding that everything has value depending on where we are in life or in our journey. I know it’s a very simple example but for me, the lesson learnt just went a little further to embed my thinking about being grateful for little things.

In the last few days, I have relived funny, good, great and not-so-good stories and they have all reminded me of how good God has been to me and my family, both nuclear and extended as well as how important it is to be able to enjoy life with our loved ones ‘in the present’. There’s a temptation to wait until everything is perfect before we slow down, show love, spend time with those that matter or even to make a decision to be happy no matter what life presents. But all we have is now and I heard someone recently say that “yesterday is history but today is a gift which is why it’s called “The Present”. I must confess that I’d not quite thought of the meaning of the word in that way before. So let’s live in the present that we have been gifted with. That doesn’t obviously mean that we live carelessly with no care for tomorrow or plan but in our bid to plan for tomorrow, we must not miss the beauty, encapsulated by both ‘the good and bad’ experiences along the way.

By sharing this memoir of my recent holiday, I hope you are reminded to be grateful for everything including the little things. It’s amazing how energised we become by sheer laughter. I have laughed so hard at myself and at other things in the last few days and this didn’t mean that my pending list of things to do have become shorter, but hey, there’s a time for everything.

Here’s a challenge for you. What are those little things in your life that you can be grateful for; your long but safe commute to work, your caring wife, committed husband, untidy kids, inconsistent friends, your weird pastor and church members? The list goes on and on. The point is, find things and people you can be grateful for and make it a lifestyle.