In November 2015, many mourned the senseless loss of life in Paris and asked, “Why did this have to happen?” Others realized that if this could happen in Paris, it could happen in America and elsewhere.
Isobel Bowdery recounted how she pretended to be dead at the Bataclan concert hall, surrounded by dead bodies.
“As I lay down in the blood of strangers and waiting for my bullet to end my mere 22 years, I envisioned every face that I have ever loved and whispered ‘I love you.’ Over and over again,” she shared. “Reflecting on the highlights of my life. Wishing that those I love knew just how much, wishing that they knew that no matter what happened to me, to keep believing in the good in people.”
In a world that seems to encourage discontentment, we strive to work harder, make more money, own a bigger home, drive a fancier car, and be who we think people want us to be – all in an effort to find contentment.
Warren Barnett, a 2015 National Philanthropy Day Volunteer of the Year recipient, spoke of how people do a lot to make money and buy things but, in the end, even though some have tried, you cannot take it with you.
The young woman who thought she was dying did not begin to think about her possessions and her love for things. She thought of her loved ones and wondered if they had any idea how much she loved them.
In the end, material things fall away and relationships remain.
So do yourself a favor: Don’t wait for tragedy to recall the highlights in your life and to tell people how much they mean to you. Place that phone call, write a thank you note, have a conversation over coffee or send an email – any of these will work.
Do you have five friends who have carried you through life’s difficulties and celebrated with you on the mountaintop? When was the last time you thanked them?
Are there teachers, coaches or other educators who helped you decide your career path? Do they know how they impacted your life?
What about family? Maybe you’ve heard that you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. If your family has been there for you consistently, have you expressed your appreciation? For those whose families evoke negative memories, is there any positive outcome from being part of that family? Did you break a cycle of addiction or become passionate about something in life? If so, have you told them?
Do you have employment? Even if it isn’t your dream job, any job is a blessing. It is easier to find work when you have work, and any money coming in is worth celebrating.
Perhaps some seemingly awful things happened in the past year that actually turned out better than you anticipated. If so, a word of gratitude may be in order.
It is easy to coast through our normal routines and focus on the negative. Saying thank you through a note, phone call or personal visit can make a huge difference in someone’s life. It may make a difference in your own life, too.