Lesson #1 – Be thankful for everything you have been given, and say thank you all the time.

Lessons from My Father

It’s easy to notice. It’s easy to compare what you have or don’t have with others. Afterall, I don’t drive a super fancy car. I don’t live in a luxurious home. I don’t have expensive clothes. And I live in a town where I see some pretty fancy stuff, definitely some really expensive cars when I go to the grocery store.

I see a lot of fancy watches and electronic gizmos, super expensive smartphones, and what looks like super expensive jewelry. It’s easy to compare and I catch myself sometimes thinking, “I wonder how nice that is?” I wonder whether or not that is a healthy thought.

Many of the things I notice that are fancy, I could buy if I wanted to. It just takes money. But I am also learning that the exact same dollar can’t be in two places at once. It’s either in my bank account, or it’s used to buy something on my wrist. Even more so, the dollar bill owed on my credit card must be paid for by the work I have yet to do.

I don’t mind using my credit card, I just hate not paying it off at the end of the month. So I sometimes think about nice things, comparing what I have, but I’m unwilling to trade debt or cash in order to own them.

My car is actually not a piece of junk. It looks pretty nice when it’s clean. My jeans are new and my smartphone is very adequate. I’m not hurting by any means or measure. It’s really quite amazing how quickly I can compare what I have and end up feeling disappointed.

I learned this lesson from my dad; be thankful for everything you have been given, and say thank you all the time.

I didn’t learn this lesson from him through a lecture, albeit my dad liked to talk. I instead learned it by the way he lived and how he treated his stuff. He made do with what he had on hand. He didn’t buy anything unless he absolutely needed it.

Dad’s toolbox has to be 50 years old. He still has the same hammer and screwdriver, pliers and set of wrenches too. It’s not just his tools. He repurposed things, built his own gadgets to do things. He made his own ladder to get into the attic. My dad was a writer and his study was full of his gadgets he stacked to make things just right. Even his research books were propped up on a homemade book stand.

My dad’s computer that he wrote 37 books on was a hand-me-down. So was his television. He didn’t use a cell phone. He didn’t need the latest and greatest. Everything worked just fine.

Every once in a while I’d figure out a simple thing I could get my dad to make his life a little easier. He would be so appreciative of it no matter what it was. He was always gracious in receiving the gift. Everything seemed special to him for some reason. I’m still puzzled by this.

I’m still learning from my dad even though he has been gone for over a year. I’m learning that I don’t need the latest and greatest to be happy. Sometimes I can take a step back with technology and be better off for it. I have more than enough stuff right now.

Dad seemed to view his stuff as a gift, even if it was something that he bought himself. It was entrusted to him. I’m not sure I will ever be able to gain that insight. I have purchased so much stuff I don’t need, I seem to be surrounded with clutter.

But a switch has gone off in me. I don’t feel like I need anything right now. I have felt this way for some time now. I don’t want anything right now. I have discovered that everything I have feels like a special gift. I feel privileged to have what I have. I am thankful.

I don’t need a fancy car. It just needs to get me where I am going safely and on time. I don’t need fancy clothes. As long as my wife isn’t embarrassed by my appearance I’m good. I don’t need the latest tech. The only thing I want is to spend time with the people I love, and as long as I have the opportunity to do that, I feel wealthy.

I have never been so aware of how fortunate I am to have people in my life that I can love. Friends to enjoy and a great family. Children who are healthy, wife who is my partner, friend, and girlfriend. I wouldn’t trade any of it, for anything. I didn’t always feel this way.

It has only been the last couple of years where I discovered the key to happiness for myself. It seemed to elude me for the longest time.

Well, for me, the key starts with lesson number one, be thankful for everything in your life. It’s more magical than that. Be thankful that you are alive. You know that’s a miracle too. It’s a miracle you are even here, in the place you are in. Let’s not even compare how much worse off things could be.

I have learned to be thankful for everything, as if it was a gift. And I am learning to say thank you all the time.

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