Count your blessings

By Henrylito D. Tacio


How are you doing today?  Not feeling good anymore as if the world has already abandoned you?  Do you sense that no loves you anymore?  Or, you’re carrying all the problems of everyone in your back?


Don’t worry.  You are not alone.  If only trees could talk, they will have many stories to tell too.  Listen to one tree speaking: “When I was young, I didn’t notice it.  But later on, I began to realize how different I was.  I was short and crooked and all out of shape while around me stood those tall stately pines and those long-branched acacia trees.  I should tell you, though, that I am hanging here onto the side of a cliff and my few roots are twined around the top of a stone.


“I often dreamed of being big and beautiful, with the wind bending me to and fro and the showers of rain washing my leaves.  But here on the cliffside I felt so small, the wind didn’t often blow through my branches.  Even the sun only warmed me for half a day and then it left me in the shade of my cliff and shone down on those majestic trees in the valley.


“Why did I have to stay here, hanging onto a cliff?  I did not have enough soil to develop all the beauty inside me.  I was dissatisfied with my lot in life.  Why did I have to stand here and be like this?


“Then early one spring morning, the perfume from all the new meadow flowers wafted up to me, a tiny bird warbled its song from my branches, and the first warm sunrays kissed me long before they ever got down into the valley.  What a beautiful panoramic view I had from up here.  No other tree down there could see as far as I could.


“From that day on, I began to realize that I was something special.  I was a special kind of tree made for a special kind of place.  None of those big beautiful trees could do what I am doing.  Why did it take me so long to realize that?”


A wise man once said, “Your presence is a present to the world.  You are unique and one of a kind.  Your life can be what you want it to be.  Take the days just one at a time.  Count your blessings, not your troubles.  Appreciate every moment and take from it everything that you possibly can, for you may never be able to experience it again.”


The Daily Motivator also affirms, “No matter what kind of troubles you may have, just think of how fortunate you are to be alive and living in a world where almost anything is possible. Consider for a moment the good things you have, and the good things that you can accomplish through your willingness, determination and action.”


Always see the brighter side of life.  As an ancient Persian saying goes, “I had the blues because I had no shoes until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet.” This reminds me of the true story of Major Frederick Franks in an article written by Suzanne Chazin for Reader’s Digest.  It went this way:


Major Frederick Franks stared at the Christmas tree in his drab hospital room.  It was the time of year for joy, but Franks felt only sadness.  Seven months earlier, in May 1970, while he was in Cambodia, grenade shrapnel had torn into the lower half of his left leg.  Doctors were preparing to amputate it.


Franks had graduated from the US military academy at West Point, where he was captain of the baseball team, and he had planned to make the army his career.  Now, retirement seemed the only option.  Although Franks felt he still had a lot to offer the army – combat experience, technical knowledge, an ability to solve problems – he knew that soldiers with severe injuries seldom return to active duty.  They must pass a yearly physical-fitness test, which includes a three-kilometer run or walk.  Franks wasn’t sure he would be up to the task with prosthesis.


After the surgery, Franks felt saddest of all about giving up his prowess on the baseball diamond.  At weekly games, he batted while someone else ran the bases for him.  Waiting to bat one day, he watched a teammate slide into base.  “What’s the worst that could happen if I tried the same thing?” he thought. 


In his next turn with the bat, Franks hit the ball into center field.  Waving away his runner, he began a painful, stiff-legged jog.  Between first and second, he saw the outfielder throw the ball towards the second baseman.  Closing his eyes, he willed himself forward and slid into second.  The umpire called “Safe!” and Franks smiled triumphantly.


A few years later, Franks led a squadron through military exercises in rough terrain.   His superiors wondered if an amputee was up to the challenge, but Franks showed them he was.  “Losing a leg has taught me that a limitation is as big or small as you make it,” he said.  “The key is to concentrate on what you have, not what you don’t have.”


I like that.  We have to count each day a blessing.  No matter how small the things are now facing, consider yourself blessed.  “The things that count most cannot be counted,” a friend once told me.  William A. Ward agrees: “The more we count the blessings we have, the less we crave the luxuries we haven’t.”


“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some,” Charles Dickens urges. Thankfully, we all have a lot more going for us than it sometimes appears. Yet, with blessings aplenty, far too many people still plod along holding tight to their scarcity state of mind. They don’t see much good happening to them and not surprisingly, not much of anything ever happens in their lives. It never occurs to them that what they don’t see is exactly what they don’t get.


A timely thought from an unknown author should remind us all: “Count your blessings instead of your crosses. Count your gains instead of your losses.  Count your joys instead of your woes.  Count your friends instead of your foes.  Count your smiles instead of your tears.  Count your courage instead of your fears.  Count your full years instead of your lean.  Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.   Count your health instead of your wealth.”


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