Every week, my pup and I go to visit residents at an assisted living facility. Many of them are hard of hearing and few remember our names. Some recall having had pets of their own, but have trouble filling in the details. Yet their joy is apparent, as Lyla patiently sits in their laps, and they gently stroke her.
It’s incredible that such a simple act can have a profound impact on all of us. I’m reminded of how small my present troubles will seem, when I’ve lived well into my seventies and beyond. I’m reminded of how much life is still ahead of me. I’m reminded of how the simple tasks we take for granted may one day feel cumbersome.
After our hour is up and the days go by, I usually forget these vivid reminders. My struggles begin to weigh on me again, and my mobility, dexterity, and mental acuity escape my notice. It’s natural to take such abilities for granted because we assume we’ll never lose them.
What we once considered gifts, luxuries even, we quickly grow accustomed to. Even worse, we perceive them as carrying burdens – regular maintenance, expenses, upkeep – until we’re forced to go without them.
We can spend our whole lives trying to improve upon what we have, from our physical abilities to our most valuable possessions, or we can spend more time appreciating them in their barest forms.
If you’re feeling unfulfilled, how often has a change of scenery, a different job, more income, or a new exercise program failed to bring you the lasting contentment you desire? It’s so easy to believe that such shifts will bring us happiness, but continually disappointing when they don’t.
Think about what brings you joy. Is it reconnecting with a loved one at the end of a long day? Is it preparing a meal to share with others or enjoy in solitude? Is it going for a walk and feeling the warmth of the sun on your face?
None of these requires drastic lifestyle changes. No matter your relationship status, employment status, where you live, or how much you earn, any of these activities can bring light to your days. Sometimes, they’re the only things that can.
Notice what makes you feel whole and seek more of it. Don’t wait until what you most cherish is jeopardized before you recognize its significance. And if you have the opportunity, be around others who inspire this in you, even if it’s only for an hour a week, with Frank Sinatra crooning in the background.