By Gan Siew Hua
After my near drowning experiences that I wrote about in “Given Another Chance”, I had developed over the years a series of life choices that has benefited, and even led to writing this book, so I would like to include an additional essay that I hope will benefit you as it has benefited me and my family.
Always have gratitude in life. When you wake up every morning and before you get out of bed, take a moment to reflect. You have been given another chance to life! A gift of a brand-new day! What a great gift it is! That is why now is called present simply because it is a gift. Appreciate the gifts that you have. For example, you have a healthy body and a pair of eyes to appreciate the beauty of the sky at sunrise or the faces of your children, your family and friends. Ask, how can you make life more meaningful? Reflect on three things that you look forward to for that day. Ponder on your purpose in life. Be grateful for the time you have and savour each joy hat comes your way.
Similarly, when your head hits the pillow at night, show gratitude: Ask yourself, “What are the three things you are grateful for today?” You were able to drive your children to school or yourself to work today without getting into an accident or your car didn’t break down unlike others that you see nearly every day. You have a home or a place to live with a roof over your head unlike countless others in the world. You have a spouse, or a supportive friend and you may have children or nieces and nephews that you cherish, and siblings, too, not to mention your parents and other relatives.
Be content. A poor person who is content with his life is a rich person, yet a rich person who is never satisfied with what he or she has will always be poor. Only when one has gratitude will one be happy and joyful. Usually, we tend to appreciate things only when they are gone like our health or our body when we are sick or injured. Even a toothache or a cut on the finger can cause discomfort for a whole day or even longer. Use the pain and aches to serve as a reminder to appreciate your life more. Take good care of your health in all three aspects: emotionally, physically and mentally. There is no use earning a good income when your own health is so poor you are unable to enjoy life.
Remember, life is never constant. Do not let the environment shape your life but instead, you shape the environment. We have only 24 hours a day, yet do we actually realize what goes on during that time? Going through your daily routines of life may, at times, seem boring. At the same time, life can suddenly become dramatic like when you get a phone call from school about your child being injured or when a child steps out between two parked cars and an adult grabs him in the nick of time or the lump on your breast proves to be benign. Each day, there are many things that occur that have a lot to teach us; therefore, our five senses should always be kept on high alert. And be aware of your surroundings whether to enjoy the natural beauty or to be wary of those loitering around and watching you with intent so you can avoid potential disasters like missteps or snatch thieves.
In addition, react to disaster with a calm presence. If everyone panics, that’s not very helpful. By remaining calm, you can think better. Becoming a “hard” or a “bitter” person due to your suffering or difficult environment is not a sign of strength but a form of weakness.