The capacity of people to continue going and press forward in the midst of circumstances that are unimaginable never fails to humble and amaze me. And make me feel like a schmuck for my persistent unhappiness with certain things in my life.
Human endurance has to be our greatest quality. When I think about the people in Haiti and Chile dealing with death and destruction on a massive scale, I cannot help but be awed at their ability to endure. People in war-torn countries in Africa who worry every day if they will be raped, tortured or murdered simply because of their ethnicity continue on with their daily lives providing for their families. Laid off workers, those affected by chronic and debilitating pain, patients with a terminal diagnosis, those who have suffered the tragic loss of a spouse, parent, or child who continue to make the most of what they have. They endure.
How can I even begin to compare anything in my life to theirs, especially some unhappiness I think I might be dealing with? I have never experienced true unhappiness and suffering on that level and yet I wallow in the self-pity of ‘things are hard for me.’ What a totally and completely ridiculous notion! I have things that many people cannot even fathom.
Schmuck may be too lenient a term to describe me. Selfish, spoiled and self-involved are closer to the truth. What is it in our culture and environment that imparts on us this individualistic way of living? How do we learn to be so concerned for our own well-being with no comparative thought to those around us?
More and more I am learning about the impact of our thoughts upon our lives and the outcomes of our actions. If we consistently believe that things are bad, that we have been somehow wronged, that our situation is a black hole of unhappiness, nothing will ever change. We must know that even though things are not perfect, we are incredibly blessed and have every reason to be grateful. And if we cannot figure this out on our own, we can simply read the day’s news about those who are truly suffering.
If that is not enough to change our perceptions of our lives, what is?
Today, I may be a schmuck who cannot see past her own problems, but I will work to lay aside my tiny world view and consider my situation next to that of the world. And maybe, just maybe, I will begin to endure.