When I wasn’t getting extorted or doing drugs in Yemen, I enjoyed touring around with my fixer.
Several times, I noticed that when we passed a beggar on the street, he took a small amount of money from his pocket and gave it to them.
Observing this behavior caused me to think. I’m supposed to give to the poor, but do I really?
Most of the time when I hear of people who are in need, I don’t do anything. Sometimes I try not to look at them if I’m passing by on the street, to avoid the likelihood that they will ask for money and I’ll turn them down.
Sure, I give a percentage of my money to Charity:Water and other good causes, but I don’t really miss the money I give. The funds are automatically transferred through the electronic ether. I see a number that goes out from my bank account, but the number that comes in is far greater.
What real sacrifice am I making? I can’t think of anything, so I resolve to think about this more.
A few people said last week that gratitude is a good response to melancholy. I agree.
If you start feeling sorry for yourself when everything is going well, better start making lists and expressing thanks.
For what are you grateful?
To whom are you thankful?
The other part is to make sure you’re not just focusing on yourself—that’s where the action part comes in.
See this note from Jonathan Fields on his unconventional email signature.
I think the point is to be a) mindful, and b) considerate of others.
I first heard Rumer on a long Cathay Pacific flight from New York to Hong Kong. I listened to Thankful over and over last year.
I hadn’t heard it in a while, so I was glad when it came up in shuffle mode while I was pondering these things.
On the way home, I stopped off in Frankfurt for 36 hours. I could have stayed only one night, but I needed to catch up on my running. I’ll be
running hobbling through the Chicago Marathon in October, and I’m behind in what most people call “training.”
Therefore I stayed an extra day, and that morning I ran I ran 18 miles along the river. I kept going and going and ended up outside of Frankfurt and in a place I had never been. Wow. Funny how that happens—run nine miles in one direction and you end up in a different city.
The first 12 miles were nice; the next 6 were TOUGH.
During the good part of the run I thought about the questions. For what am I truly grateful? To whom am I thankful?
It was a long list.
Remember: we are searching for meaning in a world of superficiality.
I do believe that gratitude is a good response to melancholy. Even if it doesn’t solve the whole problem, at least it gives you someone to focus on besides yourself.
What are you grateful for today? What are you doing about it?