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I’ve had an interesting time writing this blog post. I wrote one earlier in the week – and that isn’t what I’m going to send! I’ve been touched in a few different ways the last few days, so that is what I am sharing instead!
As you know, my boys are far, far away from home right now. It’s been an interesting thing to navigate the feelings I have – Excitement, Worry, Pride, Sadness…all wrapped up in one. But there is one emotion I haven’t spent a lot of time with yet – and that’s the one I want to talk about today.
A young man spoke in my church today. He served as a missionary, and has been home for about 7 months. He spoke about the regrets he has from his time as a missionary. That was a little depressing, I have to admit! Just the fact that he went and endured earns him a lot of points in my mind! He narrowed the regrets down to three categories, and the second one really got me to sit up and listen.
He said he had spent most of the time on his mission whining. Whining about the cold, or the heat, the food, his apartment, trying to get his companion to work harder or be something he wasn’t. He said late into his two years of service he realized his happiness was completely dependent on his ATTITUDE. He could be happy, or not happy, all based on what he decided he wanted to be. It was a wake up call, and he wishes he had woken up quite a bit sooner.
He shared a story I’ve heard in a talk by one of our church leaders. It’s a funny one!
“There is an old story of a waiter who asked a customer whether he had enjoyed the meal. The guest replied that everything was fine, but it would have been better if they had served more bread. The next day, when the man returned, the waiter doubled the amount of bread, giving him four slices instead of two, but still the man was not happy. The next day, the waiter doubled the bread again, without success.
On the fourth day, the waiter was really determined to make the man happy. And so he took a nine-foot-long (3-m) loaf of bread, cut it in half, and with a smile, served that to the customer. The waiter could scarcely wait for the man’s reaction.
After the meal, the man looked up and said, “Good as always. But I see you’re back to giving only two slices of bread.”
Doesn’t this just make you shake your head – how could someone be that unappreciative and clueless?? But I think I did something similar just last week…
Gratitude is related to attitude. If you are looking for something to complain or whine about, you will find it. And the opposite is true – if you look for something to be grateful for, you will find that as well. Here’s a great quote that illustrates that perfectly:
“ Seeing does not necessarily lead to believing, but believing always leads to seeing.”
If you believe you are blessed, you will see evidence all around you. If you believe you have the most wonderful spouse or kids or job, you will see things that support that belief. We are all about making ourselves right. Ever notice that when you buy something, you spend the entire drive home justifying that purchase in your mind? We like to be right. So if you say you are incredibly blessed, your mind will work overtime to make sure you see everything around you that proves the truth of that belief. Cool how that works in our favor on this one.
Abraham Lincoln said that, “Folks are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
This young man finished up this point by asking a question. He asked if you wait to enjoy the music until the concert is over, or enjoy it while the music is still playing. He asked if you enjoy a meal during the meal, or wait until after the last bite. He was helping us realize that happiness comes when we enjoying things while we are THERE.
Here is one of my favorite parables:
An American investment banker was taking a much-needed vacation in a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. The boat had several large, fresh fish in it. The investment banker was impressed by the quality of the fish and asked the Mexican how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”
The banker then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican fisherman replied he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked “But what do you do with the rest of your time?” The Mexican fisherman replied, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos: I have a full and busy life, señor.”
The investment banker scoffed, “I am an Ivy League MBA, and I could help you. You could spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats until eventually you would have a whole fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to the middleman you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You could control the product, processing and distribution.”
Then he added, “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City where you would run your growing enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?” To which the American replied, “15-20 years.” “But what then?” asked the Mexican. The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You could make millions.”
“Millions, señor? Then what?” To which the investment banker replied, “Then you would retire. You could move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
Enjoy the life you are in NOW. Be grateful for what you have NOW. Find things that make you happy NOW and enjoy the music while it is still playing! So my challenge to you this week is to find five things that are wonderful about your life (don’t stop there if you find more!). Then find reasons to support your belief – remember, believing will lead to seeing.
Have a wonderful, grateful week!
Dr. Michelle Jorgensen