Okay, so I’m probably not that bad, but lately I’ve wasted entirely too much time and energy being envious of what others have and do instead of just being thankful. It's not that I expect uber-extravagant things like a huge diamond or a yacht, but I can't help feeling worthy of more. I'd like to enjoy more vacations and regularly scheduled massages and mani/pedis. My daughter deserves the best of the best of everything. My house should be cleaned by someone other than me. I'd prefer to do more shopping at Pottery Barn and less at Target and not feel guilty when I splurge on hair products from the salon. I'd like to sweat from personal training sessions. And why can't I have a fancy soaker tub and granite counter tops? I suppose wanting more is the greedy American way, but that’s no excuse.
I’ve had this ridiculous sense of entitlement; it’s definitely not the way I was raised, nor is it the way I want my daughter to be brought up. The truth is I'm very lucky. My needs are all met as well as a lot of my wants. I have the love of a good man, and my daughter is the smartest and most beautiful little girl on the planet. My parents and in-laws are alive and well; they’re also still married and love each other very much. My incredible sister, brother-in-law and niece are loads of fun. Most importantly, we all have our health. And that’s where I credit my job for providing wake up calls to shake me out of occasional pity parties like this.
During my workday it’s not uncommon for me to get a good dose of reality. I hear about patients struggling to meet basic needs because they’re trying to pay health care bills. Very recently, I was leaving for lunch with M., a colleague and friend, and we stopped to greet a gentleman who'd just walked into our office. He was a very tall, handsome, well-put-together man in his mid-40s. He shared that his wife was having a difficult time emotionally dealing with her disease, and he was concerned he wasn’t doing enough to help her. He proudly showed us a picture of the two of them; both had bald heads. He struggled to keep from breaking down, and so did we. The love he had for his wife combined with the pain he felt because he couldn’t fix things seeped from him.
I can’t keep from thinking about this man and his beautiful wife whom I’ve never met. And given the recent disaster in Japan I'm embarrassed for having so many unnecessary desires. Why do I want more for my already privileged two-year-old? Would you like to know what's most important to her? She loves bubbles and play-doh and paint. She loves helping me cook and dancing around the living room. She loves going outside to explore and collecting treasures like sticks and leaves and rocks. She loves to slide and eat popsicles. I'm extremely fortunate she's such a happy, healthy child. And it’s my job to teach her just how blessed we are…with exactly what we already have.
“If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can't buy.” Proverb