Friday, 4 July 2014

How to be more grateful

My Dad sent me this text a few days ago:

"My mother would have been 103 tomorrow. On her third birthday Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo, which led to the outbreak of the First World War."

This got me thinking about how lucky we are today, not having to experience the First or the Second World War like so many of our elderly relatives. We so often loose sight of reality, complaining about not being able to get the latest eyeliner or afford the designer handbags, when our ancestors would have been worrying about when their food rationing would end and whether their loved ones would return from the war. 

I've often tried to notice those around me during my commute who are facing their own personal battles. When I get frustrated at the train delays or the over-crowded carriage, I look around me and wonder how other people are coping. For example, there is a man who I see most mornings who can hardly walk, he drags one leg all the way from the platform at Waterloo to the taxi rank. He still goes to work everyday despite the struggle and, little does he know, provides inspiration to me every time I see him. There is another man who is in a wheelchair who gets the same train as me and who never asks for a wheelchair ramp. Holding the bars by the side of the doors he just pulls himself onto the carriage using only his arm strength. I had to do a double take when I saw this the first time. 

The other day I saw an elderly man with a huge bandage on the top of his head with his wife, he looked so grateful to have her there. Noticing the subtle interactions people have with each other is fascinating and reminds you of how important physical social interaction is. No computer can show you the subtleties of people's emotions on such a raw level. 

Take a moment, take your headphones out, put your phone away and just have a look around you and appreciate the spectrum of emotions happening around you. It really helps to ground you and be grateful for the little things in life.


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