Be grateful. It's as simple as that.
A week or so ago, I had quite a scare. When I got home from work last Friday evening, I got a bad vibe -- a "something is missing" vibe.
To my dismay, while using my cell phone, I noticed that my wedding band was not on my finger! I hadn't the slightest clue where it could be; I couldn't even remember the last time I'd seen it.
It's one of those things where you grow so accustomed to having or seeing something that you automatically assume it's always there. Unfortunately, it wasn't the first time in recent weeks that the ring had slid off my finger. It happened on another occasion where it fell in a drawer I was rummaging through to find a receipt. That should have been a warning to take the ring to get adjusted.)
My wife and I frantically searched for the ring -- in our condo, along the walk paths outside, in my car. We even searched my cubicle at work and the gas station I had stopped at just before heading home. It was nowhere to be found. We had all but given up hope at that point. We even went to the jewelry the next day to buy a considerably cheaper ring that bore a striking resemblance to my missing wedding band.
As it turns out, three days later -- on my birthday, no less -- my wife found the ring in the fridge of all places! It was sitting pretty inside the drawer where we store our cold cuts. My wife and I couldn't be happier, and I couldn't have asked for a better birthday present. We wasted no time going back to the mall to return the newer ring I'd bought and having the original resized. I wasn't taking any chances.
Thanks to this unsettling experience, I cherish my ring more than ever before. It would have been devastating to lose something that held so much sentimental value. A wedding band is one of those things that cannot be replaced.
A valuable lesson that can be taken from all this: We should never take anyone or anything for granted, because we can lose them at any time.
Think about a time in your life where a loved one has had a health scare or been in a life-threatening situation. Chances are that the experience not only gave the individual a newfound appreciation for life, but you began to treasure the person more than you did before.
Indeed, the prospect of losing something or someone makes us more grateful to have them in our lives.
And you don't actually have to experience a near-loss to become more appreciative. Just the mere thought of someday losing someone or something dear to you can produce similar feelings. I encourage my readers to do this every so often and all of them report feeling more grateful thereafter.
Imagine being blind, handicapped, or homeless. Imagine you had only a month to live. Imagine not having clean drinking water. Think about blessings that you might take for granted -- but that so many others in the world would do anything to have.
Don't be one of those people who laments that "we don't know what we have until it's gone." Cherish what you have so that you never experience such contrition.
Even some of my closest friends are guilty of this. They want to be the ones to decide the places you meet at, the time of the day you call one another, and the kinds of activities you partake in together. Intractable and inflexible, such people make awfully poor negotiators because they don't know the meaning of meeting in the middle.
Unfortunately, these individuals fail to recognize that in order for relationships to thrive, both parties ought to be well-versed in the art of compromise. That's because relationships are about give and take, not just latter.
If time and time again you find yourself acceding to someone else's demands yet fail to ever see them do the same, it should make you question if the person is in the relationship for all the wrong reasons.
People who are this difficult may not even be worth keeping around. If you feel you literally have to beg someone to get a concession out of them -- whether it's to go to the restaurant you proposed or schedule a phone chat for a time that works well for you, you're likely dealing with someone who embodies the definition of selfishness. It's all about them, and they don't apologize for it.
If you're not willing to be flexible on occasion, your friendships and relationships won't last very long. One person shouldn't feel like they're the only one bending over backwards for the other.
While the other extreme is also bad -- always saying "yes" to everyone gives the impression they can just walk all over you -- relationships are about putting others' needs before your own at times.
Never let anyone think they can get away with always calling all the shots. Remind them that you have a voice as well -- your needs, schedule, and interests matter just as much as theirs.
In fact, sometimes we may experience an event we find unpleasant at the moment, only to realize later -- perhaps when comparing it to other situations occurring before or after -- that it wasn't all that bad?
This can happen for two reasons:
1. We take the present moment for granted.
Perhaps because we're too busy dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, we fail to appreciate and live in the moment. Study after study shows that we're happiest when we're focused on the present.
2. We look back on the past through rose-colored glasses.
Perhaps the experience really wasn't as titillating as our memories of it might lead us to think. That's because, when reminiscing about the past, human beings have a tendency to filter out the bad stuff, leaving only the Kodak moments we tend to capture in pictures.
Nevertheless, one thing is for sure -- life is too short not to enjoy it as much as we possibly can.
The ball is in our court. We can either complain of being unfulfilled and let all our troubles put a damper on our day. Or, we can take full control of our lives, radiating optimism and making the most of every day we're blessed with.
And what better way to enrich our lives than by infusing it with exciting new experiences? There's nothing wrong with a little nostalgia here and there, but even better than reminiscing is experiencing something when it first happens -- then doing it all over again.
Do you agree?
Essentially, this means that someone could serve for life, which many people equated with monarchical rule.
Beginning with George Washington and lasting through Harry S. Truman, presidents could serve as many terms as they could win. It wasn’t until after Franklin D. Roosevelt won four consecutive presidential elections, leaving office only because of his death, that the government warmed up to the idea of having term limits.
Let's travel back in time to the founding era. Back then, the U.S. had no presidential term limits because under the Articles of Confederation, there was no such thing as a president. (There was a president of the Continental Congress in the 1780s, but it was not a chief executive position.)
The Articles’ framers in the Second Continental Congress deliberately left out a head-of-state because they fretted over creating another king in the mold of King George III of Great Britain, with whom they’d just severed ties after winning independence from the mother country.
Yet in 1787, a new Constitutional Convention formed to scrap the Articles and draft a Constitution that was completely different. The result was much less democratic than the Articles or any state constitution at the time.
Some of the Constitutional framers still had serious qualms about creating a chief executive who was too much like a king. But they came pretty close to the edge with things like the presidential pardon -- a power that brings to mind the British King’s “royal prerogative of mercy" -- and by nearly making the presidency a straightforward lifetime appointment.
Many of the Framers -- including James Madison and Alexander Hamilton -- backed a lifetime appointment for presidents selected by Congress and not elected by the people, which would have made the presidency a so-called elective monarchy. However, when this was put to a vote, it failed by only six votes to four.
Instead, they came up with a complex voting system involving the electoral college that would still guarantee, as the framers desired, that presidential elections were not solely in the hands of ordinary voters. Within this system, they shortened a president’s appointment to four years. Because most of the framers didn’t want to set any limits on how many four-year terms a president could serve, however, they made no mention of it in the Constitution.
Nonetheless, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson ended up setting a two-term precedent. Washington passed on running a third time, but did clarify that he would’ve if he felt he was needed. Jefferson, on the other hand, felt that two terms was sufficient for one person, and that more might overreach executive power. Thus, two terms became the unofficial standard thereafter.
That is, until Franklin D. Roosevelt bucked tradition by winning successive elections in 1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944. He served a total of 12 years and died just a few months following his last inauguration.
So why did FDR serve so long?
When a country faces national and international crises, it might prefer to keep the same government in power for longer than usual. And during that time, the U.S. was contending with the extraordinary circumstances of both the Great Depression and World War II. Still, FDR’s long tenure created unease about the prospect of presidential tyranny.
By the end of his third term, Roosevelt’s high blood pressure and the beginnings of congestive heart failure were making him too ill to serve, rendering him incapable of working more than about four hours a day. Many who regularly saw the president doubted that he would complete his fourth term. Unfortunately, they were correct.
These concerns led to the 22nd Amendment, ratified on February 27, 1951, which established a two-term limit for presidents.
That being said, should you allow one person -- whether your obnoxious boss, an annoying neighbor, or the maniac who cut you off while driving to work this morning -- to sabotage your day? Of course not.
In the grand scheme of life, the kinds of things we bicker and complain about are insignificant.
Taking on this attitude is easier said than done in a tense, emotionally-charged situation where someone really tests your patience.
For example, let's pretend someone cuts you off on your way to work, nearly hitting the brand new car you've worked your behind off to afford. While you're both at a red light, the driver of the other car gets out of his vehicle and exhorts you -- in an expletive-laden rant -- to learn how to drive, even though he was the one who failed to observe the rules of the road.
And just when you didn't think it could get any worse, you realize while pulling into the parking garage that you have a flat tire. The road rage incident causes you to arrive to work late, setting your irritable boss off.
On days like this, it can be really difficult to keep our composure and dismiss such events as insignificant. We might even take it out on unsuspecting friends or family members who just happen to cross our path at the worst possible time.
But we must keep things in perspective and continually remind ourselves that these situations -- and our lives in general -- could be far worse.
After you've taken a deep breath and calmed down, immediately think of things, events, and people in your life that you're grateful for. Such thoughts should eclipse the negative one(s) resulting from the bad experience.
Don't let someone who hold so much sway over you, especially if you don't even know them. Think about it: In cases like that of the reckless driver described above, you may never see that individual again in your life, so why let them ruin an otherwise satisfactory day?
Keep your head up. Find reasons to enjoy your day rather than feel frustrated by it. For every bad thing that happens on a given day, surely there are at least two or three good things we can smile about. The key is to strive toward keeping our emotions in check.