This I Believe

Martha - Centennial, Colorado
Entered on October 21, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: gratitude

Sometimes I feel as if appreciating what I have in life can be difficult. I have a wonderful home with a magnificent family, yet instead of realizing how lucky I am I envy the perfect family with the mansion. I have my health, yet I ignore that, and imagine how incredible it would be to drive my neighbor’s amazing car. I have so much going for me in life and yet I overlook it all and envy what others have.

I am the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants and they thought that spending my summer of 2007 in Ethiopia visiting family and experiencing how my parents were raised, would teach me to appreciate what I have. It is interesting to compare how they were raised with next to nothing and how I am being raised with a wonderful home and a fridge always full of food. Until I saw streets in Axum, Ethiopia overflowing with starving people who still had the strength to smile, I never realized all my blessings. I believe that my happiness in life comes through me choosing to appreciate all that I have been blessed with and not dwelling upon what I wish I had.

Walking around in Axum, I saw a lady living on the street who carried an infant who appeared to be her child. The lady obviously had nothing to her name except the clothes on her back, the few cents she made begging all day, and the child whom she held so closely. The lady gave her child bread to eat and smiled. It shocked me to see a woman going through such a life and still wearing a smile on her face. I asked my mom what this woman could possibly be happy about. We both thought about it and she finally replied, “Maybe she’s just happy that she has her child to keep her company.”

At that moment so many thoughts rushed into my head. Why do I choose to get upset when something as insignificant happens to me such as not finding the perfect shoes? Why should I go through life unhappy when I have everything that I could possibly need to live a fantastic, fulfilling life? It made me wonder why this lady on the street who was so unfortunate was enjoying herself while I grumpily stomped the pavement.

I can’t fully say that I never get upset about irrelevant issues anymore, even after that experience. What I can honestly say is that I now try to go through life ignoring the inconsequential issues that come up. From now on I will stop envying the perfect family with the mansion. Instead I’ll tell my family I love them. I will stop imagining how amazing it would be to drive my neighbor’s incredible car and instead remember that I have my health. From now on I will choose to stop going through life blinded by all these minor matters. I believe that happiness comes through appreciating what you have.