My humble beginnings remind me to practice gratitude.
I was born in San Jose California and I am a product of the seventies. Some of the top stories that happened back then were things like:
- Nixon ends the US trade embargo against China. (Apr. 14).
- A military junta led by Major General Idi Amin siezes power in Uganda (Jan. 25).
- US Supreme Court rules unanimously that busing of students may be ordered to achieve racial desegregation (April 20).
And on top of all that, a star was born.
The Beginning of Gratitude-Life Lessons
I remember it like it was yesterday. The street was Pinto Drive and my mother and I lived in a duplex with a Vietnamese neighbor next door and a cool couple across the street. The husband was a truck driver and I am not sure what the lady did, but I do remember we had a cool set of people that lived around us.
We did not have the most money, but mom did her best to make it feel like we were okay, In the beginning at least. Looking back on it now, I realized it could have been a lot worse than it actually was.
Having a mom that had me at a young age, taught me a few things about life as I write this from a full grown man perspective. I remember trying to fool my mother one time by telling her I finished my homework and I was ready to go outside and play.
The truth was I was watching TV until she got home. I turned it off when I heard her pull up in her Datsun B2-10. I thought I had the full proof plan and she would just let me go outside to play with my friends. I was wrong.
Kids, Don’t Lie To Your Parents
She asked me if I did my homework. I told her yes. She asked me if I was watching TV. I told her no. Then she reached behind the TV and felt that it was hot and she knew I had just lied to her face.
Needless to say, I did not go outside to play with my friends that day.
This was back in the day when it was okay to whoop your kids! That is all I am going to say about that.
This was one of the times that things were pretty good between my mom and me, but it was not always that way. There were also dark days too.
You see, I was once bitter, mad, frustrated, and angry with my parental units and all of life for that matter. You see back then, I was not conscious enough to realize that I was mentally and spiritually incarcerated. The result of being bitter, mad, frustrated an angry at the world was a 17-year sentence.
The Shift Towards Gratitude
I felt like I was at the bottom of a pool with a ball and chain wrapped around my entire body struggling to reach the surface, where the party of life was taking place.
I was gasping for air and I didn’t realize I was the one that had the key to unlock myself the whole time.
To make a long story short I came to the realization that it was me. I had to do the changing. Not the other way around. The saying now goes, “in order for me to live I had to learn how to truly forgive!” I had to do some things that I really didn’t want to do at the time.
However, after doing it I realize that I had set myself free. I got on the phone and forgave my parents and let them off the hook. After all, they did the best they could with the resources that they had, but I chose not to see that because I was playing the role of a victim.
Constructing a Life of Gratitude
That was the beginning of the journey towards gratitude. Taking responsibility and control of my own life.
For it was in that moment that I felt free and was able to fly. This shift in my mindset and life helped me begin the work of building a life of gratitude. Experiences in my life help to shape my attitude of gratitude.
Having humble beginnings reminds me that achievements are blessings instead of entitlements.
Being humble amidst success is a lesson taught from my childhood. My approach is to be gracious in victory instead of boastful. It helps to keep me grounded so I avoid appearing conceited and self-righteous.
Gentle Reminders of Life & Gratitude
Knowing what it feels like to be in need reminds me to be thankful. I use my past situations to fuel my desire to help others.
I am grateful for the opportunity to assist others. I am able to cater to their needs because I understand their experiences firsthand. Those situations remind me of where I am coming from and the effort it takes to stay where I am.
Growing up having less than enough helps me to appreciate sharing now. I place a lot of value on being able to share with special people in my life.
Whenever I am able to, I invite friends and family to share a meal with me. I use those times to express to them how important they are to me. I give thanks for them by embracing them with loving kindness.
Today, I commit to practicing gratitude regardless of my circumstances. My life is filled with opportunities to be thankful. My rewards are richer when I take the time to be sincerely grateful.
Here are some reflection questions for you to consider!
- In what ways can I show gratitude to people who help me along the way?
- How do I make adjustments when I find myself being ungrateful?
- What value do I get from sharing my past experiences with my kids?