the ABC's of loving yourself
blogging makes it better

funny the way it is

 

Lying in the park on a beautiful day
The sunshine in the grass
And the children play
Sirens passing fire engine red
Someone's house is burning down
On a day like this

The evening comes and we're hanging out
On a front step and a car goes by
With the windows rolled down
And that war song is playing
Why can't we be friends?
Someone is screaming and crying
In the apartment upstairs

Funny the way it is
Make you think about it
Somebody's going hungry
And someone else is eating out
Funny the way it is
Not right or wrong
Somebody's heart is broken
And it becomes your favorite song

The way your mouth feels in your lover's kiss
Like a pretty bird on the breeze
Or water to a fish
The bomb blast brings
t
he building crashing to the floor
Hear the laughter
While the children play war

Funny the way it is
Make you think about it
One kid walks ten miles to school
Another's dropping out
Funny the way it is
Not right or wrong
A soldier's last breath
His baby's being born

Standing on a bridge
Watch the water passing underneath
It must have been much harder
When there was no bridge just water
Now the world is small
Compared to how it use to be
With mountains and oceans
And winters and rivers and stars

Funny the way it is
Make you think about it
One kid walks ten miles to school
Another's dropping out
Funny the way it is
Not right or wrong
A soldier's last breath
His baby's being born

Funny the way it is
Not right or wrong
Somebody's broken heart
And it becomes your favorite song
Funny the way it is
Make you think about it
One kid walks ten miles to school
Another's dropping out

Standing on a bridge
Watch the water passing underneath
It must have been much harder
When there was no bridge just water
Now the world is small
Compared to how it use to be
With mountains and oceans
And winters and rivers and stars

  

Listening to this new Dave Matthews Bandsong, "Funny The Way It Is," has really inspired me to look at life from a different angle.Though I've certainly thought about this concept before -- how different all of our lives are and how, when I am at my happiest, someone else is suffering greatly (and vice versa) -- but, with my new found desire to see things from a positive perspective, I find that I'm thinking about this concept completely differently. Rather than thinking about it from an perspective of potential isolation ("I feel this" vs. "others feel this"), I'm listening to this song, reading these lyrics, and recognizing a profound sense of gratitude. I am realizing that, no matter what "terrible" thing is happening in my life at any given time, I am still very, very lucky. When I think about someone's house burning down or a soldier dying, I find that I am given a new perspective on my own life. I recognize that what I am, what I have, is not to be taken for granted.

Life, as most of you would probably agree, is such a mystery. I've often wondered, "How is it that I was born into this, living in a place of wealth and opportunity, gifted with talents and traits that I cannot imagine life without? How is it that I have been given all of this, having done absolutely nothing to deserve it, while others are given little or nothing?" I do not pretend to understand the reasons for this. I do not believe there are reasons. Maybe it is chance, luck, good fortune. Maybe there are other lives and I was so good in my last one that I got lucky with this one. I do not know the answers. What I do know is that I've spent a great deal of time feeling guilty. I have nice things. I live in a nice place. I am not afraid to fall asleep at night and I am not crawling into bed with an empty stomach.

 

I am happy. I am lucky. I am also filled with guilt.

 

Sometimes I think about what I have, who I am, the time period in which I was born, and I ask the big one: "Why?" I cannot help but wonder why I am so lucky and others are not. I cannot help but think, as I'm sitting here at my desk, window open so the warm breeze come through, typing on my laptop, that I do not deserve this. I cannot help but feel guilty for what I have, for what I am, for what I have let myself become. I have, but I still want. I am good, but I want to be better. Listening to these lyrics I feel overcome with a mix of happiness and sadness. Happiness because I am so lucky to live the life I live in the place I am living; sadness because I feel pain for all of those who are not as fortunate. For the broken-hearted, the hungry, the homeless, the people living in war-torn countries in fear, I feel pain. It sticks at me, like needles. Enough to hurt, but not enough to cause permanent damage. Because, no matter how hard I try, I do not know what it is like to be them.

As I listened to the words and read them over and over again, I was struck by one line in particular, "Not right, not wrong." We are born into our lives, and while we do make choices and can live our lives as we wish, there is not a right or a wrong way to live. Right and wrong is a matter of opinion. When I think about people starving and I am contemplating going out to eat, I feel guilt. When I know that people are homeless, but I'm craving a new dress, I feel guilt. But the words written here are true. It is not right or wrong to live as you are living. You are free to make your choices. You are in an environment that supports or allows for these choices. Guilt is wasteful, as it does nothing to express your gratitude for the life you have been given.

After coming to this realization, I knew I had to do something. I had to take action. There are a million actions I could take, but the one I wanted most, the one that would give me instant gratification, was to begin being more grateful. This song, to me, screams, "BE GRATEFUL!" While I have my gratitude-filled moments, for the most part I take my life for granted. I take myself, my health, my wealth, my family and friends, and my happiness for granted almost every single day. So I've decided to make a change. Today I will embrace gratitude. I will find new ways to express my thankfulness for this life I'm living. There are many ways to do this, I'm sure, but below are the five ways I plan to express my gratitude for my life.

 

Five Ways to Be Grateful Right Now

  1. Be present.

    To be more grateful for my life, I must be more present in it. I must be still and aware and pay attention to what I have all around me. I must be conscious of the things I do, the people I love, and the experiences I have. Everything matters. Every little thing in life is something to be happy for.

  2. Be positive.

    Embracing the positive aspects of my life will also help me be more grateful. When I look at the bad, I see the bad and I become senselessly dissatisfied with my life. When I look at the good, I see good and I realize that this life really is a magical, wondrous experience filled with amazing things to see and do.

  3. Be kind.

    To open my heart to gratitude, I must be kinder to others. I am often short-tempered and quick to judge others. I am often moving at such a lightning-fast speed through my own life that I don't stop to consider their needs or desires. I must be kinder to others, but also to myself (see yesterday's post for more about this).

  4. Be open.

    At times I can be very closed up, locked away in my own little world, ignoring the new, the different, the things I am not used to. If I want to be grateful, I need to be more open. I need to expand my heart and mind to understand all that there truly is to be grateful for in this world.

  5. Be giving.

    Though I try to be giving of my time and money, I know there is always more I can be doing. There is always more I can  give -- whether it be kindness, happiness or actual material things. Giving is, to me, one of the best ways to show gratitude. And it doesn't have to be about giving money. There are so many gifts -- like the gift of joy -- that you can give every day.

 

Opening up to an attitude of gratitude is easy to do right now, in this moment that is beautiful and filled with the happiness of overcoming an illness while sitting by a window on a glorious spring day, but I wonder how will I will be able to be grateful for life when something goes wrong...Will I be grateful when bad things happen? Will I be as thankful when I lose someone or something, when I am overwhelmed with sadness and doubt? I hope I can refer back to this post and remember that, no matter what, life is good. It's a mystery why I am here, when I am and where I am, but I am lucky. And I must never forget that.

Comments

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I've shared some of the same feelings before, PP. Feeling so incredibly grateful and blessed, yet also feeling a bit guilty about it too: "What did I do to deserve this? Why am I so blessed?" Over time I've learned that, at least for me, to disparage this or feel guilty about it, though, is to spit in the face of the Universe. It is as if I'm playing god with who I think should and should not be blessed. Who's to know that? (Again, this is not me saying this to you. It's just what I think for myself).

The approach I try to take is to believe that I have been blessed so that I can be a blessing.

My "riches" are little good if I do not choose to share them.

Dani,

Great advice about gratitude! I try to be grateful, but I know there is plenty of opportunity for me to improve.

It easy to feel guilty when things are going well. I try to share my happy feelings with others in an effort to cheer them up.

Chania Girl - I think it's hard not to feel guilty from time to time, but I agree with you -- to feel guilty is to be ungrateful. It is a waste. Instead, we should embrace what we have and try to do the best we can to use it for good. I also agree that riches are of little good if we don't share them with others.

Roger - I'm the same way. I really try to be grateful, but sometimes I just plain forget. Sharing happiness with others is a great way to express gratitude for being so fortunate. :)

Thanks for this post. I think this is in a similar vein to what you said -- for me, gratitude is something that emerges naturally when I stop telling myself I "should" feel grateful, as if I owe it to others or the universe. When I put that kind of pressure on myself I feel rebellious and irritated, but removing the pressure allows my natural compassion to arise.

Chris - I agree. "Shoulds" are bad news. Thanks for your comment! :)

This article makes you want to stop and listen to the sounds of our world. It makes you want to really listen to all the tears, cheer, and peoples fears. Take a minute to stop, breathe and honor someone not as fortunate as us.

Spencer - So nicely put. That's exactly how that song makes me feel so I'm glad I was able to get that across. :) Thank you for your comment!

Hi Dani .. You do write good posts .. and I do look forward to spending more time reading your blog properly .. Your 5 points are absolutely right .. be present, be positive, be kind, be open, be giving ... 5 very simple maxims ..

Thanks - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Hilary - I'm glad you like the post and agreed with the 5 ideas I wrote here about being more grateful. I know you are very busy and I really appreciate you taking the time to comment on PP. :)

Dani, feeling guilty does not serve anyone. It just doesn't do anybody any good. Instead be grateful. You will feel better and will put out positive energy into the world. Some people keep a gratitude journal. This keeps them focused on the positive. It reminds them to look for the good, the positive in each day. Plus it reminds them of how blessed they are. I did this years ago when I really needed an attitude adjustment. I went through a period of time when I wasn't feeling very happy and this turned things around for me. I got up each day looking for the things I was going to write down that I was grateful for. I had to come up with at least 7 things each day. Take care, A.

Anita - You're right. Guilt does nothing, but gratefulness brings about happiness. I don't have a gratitude journal, but I do have a little book where I keep my happy list, a list of things that make me happy. It's a similar concept and it really does work. Thanks so much for sharing your insights! :)

It is interesting we both posted about gratitude on the same day :) Interesting thought about feeling grateful even when something goes wrong. It will be hard, but at least we have the ability to look back on what we've written and remember how we felt in that moment of real gratitude for life.

Penny - It's definitely not easy to be grateful when you're in a tough spot, but it's so important. Lucky for us we have our posts (and each other's posts) to refer to! :)

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