A few years ago, I watched an interview on television with a Vietnam veteran who’d been a fighter pilot. On one mission, he was shot down and captured by the Viet Cong. He was sent to the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prisoner-of-war camp, where he spent seven years starving and being repeatedly beaten.
When he returned home after the war, this man wrote a book about his experience. He said that he wasn’t bitter about what had happened, because it had taught him the meaning of appreciation. Not a day goes by now when he doesn’t appreciate the fact that he’s holding a cup of coffee and can get a refill if he wants one. Each time he steps into the shower, he’s grateful for being able to freshen up, thankful for the hot water and soap.
As I listened to this man, I realized that I had a very different scale on which I listed the things I appreciate. He made me notice that I’d completely eclipsed the everyday pleasure and ease of my life. Ever since that interview, I’ve looked at everything I do and have, and all the ways life is so easy for me through eyes filled with gratitude.
Where once on my list of gratitude I had only the “biggies”—such as enough money and good health—now I realize that being able to have coffee, water, tea, and any and all kinds of food and clothing is nothing short of a miracle. I have a life full of choices. I’m living in a free country. And each one of these facts has countless other gratitude spin-offs. So when you think about what you’re grateful for, start small and build from there.
Caroline Myss has been in the field of energy medicine and human consciousness for 20 years. She specializes in assisting people in understanding the emotional, psychological, and physical reasons why their bodies have developed an illness.