Count your blessings

It was about 11 am and another hot muggy day in Mumbai. I was on my way home and was searching for a cab. As I crossed the road, scanning the vicinity for a cab, I saw one parked right across the road. After a moment’s hesitation – since I couldn’t see anyone inside – I saw that the driver was sitting on his haunches, next to the cab, clutching his head in his hands.

His face was deeply lined, the result of endless fretting and worry. His eyebrows, imperial moustache and shock of hair were all white. He was sweating, while sitting there, waiting for a rider, and complained to me about the relentless heat, as I got into the cab.

Along the way, the driver started to chat with me. Initially his lament was against the Gods conspiring not to send any rain and the relentless heat. After I murmured my agreement with him, he opened up a little more. He had two children and his wife had died of an accident a few years ago. He was trying to make both ends meet by ferrying passengers while his children went to school and gave themselves an education. He spoke about the loneliness of trying to raise the children on his own and the harsh realities of trying to eke out a living in Mumbai while plying a taxi.

The taxi driver’s plight made me feel sorry and grateful. I was sorry that there are such people in our cities who are fighting for survival on a day to day basis. They have no fixed income but the usual fixed commitments in terms of house, rent, education et al. How they manage to get through each day is a constant source of wonder to me. I felt sorrow that such poor, honest people need to suffer on a daily basis and undergo trials of endurance whereas at the other end of the spectrum, the rich are rolling in their wealth and amassing more and more of it.

As we neared our destination, I also gave up a silent prayer of thanks for the good health and financial security that has been bestowed on me.

We as a people, are prone to comparisons and always tend to compare ourselves and our situation with people who are MORE than us – more powerful, more rich, more educated. The list is as endless as our wants. We are always cribbing about not having enough, being enough, or getting enough. Our wants and desires are a never ending spiral staircase which we keep on climbing in the hope that one day we would reach the summit and achieve whatever MORE it is we are aspiring for.

The message I want to share today, dear reader, is two-fold :

One – Always compare yourselves with people who have LESS than you. This epiphany is not mine, rather I read it somewhere recently. But the message is loud, clear and strong and hence resonates with me. When we compare ourselves with people who are in a more disadvantageous position, we realise the true worth of what we possess. We have a lot more than many other people can ever dream of, especially in a vastly populated but still indigent country like ours.

Feeling bitter that you can’t own that Mercedes Benz ? Well look to the opposite side where the beggar sits with not a pie to his name. Feeling low about not having cracked the IIT/IIM entrance exams ? Look around you to see the nameless swell of population who are not even guaranteed a basic education. Longing for that overdue promotion ? Don’t fret – notice the hordes in the cities who do not have a steady job or an income. The list is endless, but I think you get the picture.

When we hanker after the material, we often lose sight of all the things we actually do possess – a sound mind and a fit body, a loving family, a secure home. The monkey mind is an expert at making you feel inferior and with its constant chatter in your brain, will try to make you feel embittered, angry or insecure. Don’t let it.

Two – Count your Blessings. As you realise that you have more than what many others in your city or country have, say a silent prayer of thanks  to God Almighty. Be grateful that you have been given enough and have the quiet confidence that you will always have enough. You may or may not get that 7 figure salary that you are hankering after or be able to afford your neighbour’s gleaming yellow Porsche – yet be grateful that you have enough to sustain yourself and your family.

The world is filled with the haves and the have nots. Don’t consider yourself in the latter category simply because you are missing some of the materialistic “must haves” that you think may make you happier. Rather, be content, grateful and humble that you have been given enough. Make efforts to always count your blessings and name them one by one.

Your outlook to Life will change at a fundamental level for the better. You will then learn to appreciate yourself and your surroundings with a calm acceptance and a feeling of deep gratitude.

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