When I was growing up, I had a lot of trouble trying to understand ‘why bad things happen to good people.’ A Jewish Rabbi named Harold Kushner wrote a fascinating book on the subject, although I do not agree with all of his reasoning. Rather than trying to argue with Kushner’s logic, I try to focus on the fact that bad things are going to happen, but the extent of the damage depends on us. We are all familiar with the statement floated by human behavioral experts, “No one can make you angry. You chose to be, or not to be, angry at some real or perceived threat.”
There are a multitude of things that upset our equilibrium, almost on a daily basis. It is easy to let them weigh us down. I would like to point out to you that there are also many things that should make us happy. After a lot of years of evaluating my own situation, I have discovered that the most enjoyable things are small, life altering events. But in each of them, we must allow them to take charge of our day. Happiness is the way in which we deal with the everyday things of life. Recently, I was at the hospital to take a PET scan. They had injected the radioactive iodine into my arm and I was waiting for the chemical to circulate – a process that takes approximately thirty minutes. Next to me on another reclining bed was one of the happiest people I have ever met. My spirits were rather low, but his smile, his chatter, and his attitude lifted my spirit. The technician who was prepping us for the exam asked the man what the doctor’s prognosis was. The man replied in a cheerful voice, “I have two months to live, tops.”
I turned my head away and took a deep breath. I found a very good thing in this man’s attitude, and I have tried to adjust mine as a result. I stop and think of how things were when I was a small child and the world held so much wonder. I remember the thrill of looking into a bird’s nest and counting the small furry creatures waiting for their mother to return. I remember sparkling creeks just right to wade with bare feet, and the endless expanse of a clear blue sky. If you try, you can view the world with the same kind of wonder that archeologist Howard Carter experienced when he peered through the small opening into Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt. It had been undisturbed for centuries and a layer covered everything. “What do you see?” the man behind him asked after a moment when Carter did not move or speak. “Wonderful things,” Carter answered in a hoarse whisper.
What have you seen today, and did you allow it to take your breath away?