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To Know When Enough is Enough

toaster oven

Lao Tzu said, “If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never truly be fulfilled.  If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.  When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

I spent many years looking to other people for fulfillment. I was not grateful to be a unique individual. I wanted to be like everyone else, to blend into the crowd, to be accepted, to finally receive the validation I needed.

For too long, I went along with the idea of success as defined by my peers and society, which meant having attained wealth, position and honors. In order to be a success, I got a good education. Then I landed a series of respectable jobs with great benefits and, at some of them, a big corner office. Although I did not dislike my jobs, I was not content. My days were jam-packed with work, leaving little time for anything else. My overcrowded schedule cost me relationships with my partner, friends, pets and myself. I had no time to really enjoy life. I was too busy being a success.

But how successful are we if we are not grateful for each and every blessing bestowed on us?  Dr. Vincent Ryan said, “The secret to life is to know when enough is enough.”

In our current society where happiness is tied to things the attitude of bigger is better, more is better, newer is better, younger is better, does not leave much room for being satisfied with what we have.

My partner came into our relationship with an old toaster oven.  It must be from the 80s. It sits on the counter next to a new, high tech coffee maker.  The old me would replace that old toaster oven with a shiny new one.  But the old one works great.  And, it still looks good, just old.

Today I am grateful for the old toaster oven. No it is not high tech but it works. Now I am more concerned about not contributing to our make it break it throw it away world than I am what people who come into my kitchen think about my old toaster oven.  She seems to be part of the family.  When she breaks we get her fixed, sort of like us.

Being grateful for all we have is a way of walking through life.  True gratitude is not a temporary state of mind but a lifestyle with many benefits. Joy and fulfillment are a result of gratitude. And, researches are discovering our physical and mental health are also now being tied to our thankfulness.

We’re more optimistic when we’re grateful which boosts the immune system. Researchers now believe people who are optimistic maintain higher numbers of blood cells that protect the immune system. Being grateful feels good and impacts others positively as well.

This week I challenge you to make a list of what you are grateful for. Not just your family, friends, job, pets, home.  Think of those things you tend to take for granted like indoor plumbing, paved roads, clean drinking water, heat, electricity, the internet, immunizations, grocery stores.

Everything we do in life is a results of a choice we make.  Having a grateful attitude is a choice to see our glass full to overflowing.  I guarantee when you lead with a grateful heart life responds.