My dad often says he feels like the richest man in the world. It always makes me smile because, having been a dairy farmer his entire life, I don't think he ever earned above the minimum wage (and that would have been a good year!). Needless to say, when he talks about feeling rich, he's not referring to the size of his pension fund (he never had one), but to the love in his life and the gratitude in his heart.
Don't get me wrong. Dad, like all people who've made it to his ripe age in life (he was born in 1935), has had his share of hardships and heartache. He lost his youngest son — my brother Peter — after a long battle with mental illness. He's supported his oldest son — my brother Frank — to adapt to life in a wheelchair after an accident left him with paraplegia. And he's endured long droughts that took all his ingenuity to find ways to feed his seven children.
Dad has taught me a lot about the power of gratitude; how it can be a tonic in difficult times and lift our spirits when we're down. Like all emotions it's contagious; like all emotions, if we feel it enough, it shapes our life. Gratitude has set up permanent residence in my dad's life and touched many others along the way. It's why I work to embrace it in my own. Admittedly, some days I fare better than others.
Of course, like any worthwhile endeavour, living with gratitude demands ongoing effort. ...