Just recently – during one of the December storms – the electricity in our house was gone for a time. For a few hours we sat there, devoid of modern day comforts of heat and light, and with only a tiny church candle for navigation.
I am sure we have all been visited with this. Suddenly, we are consciously reminded of what we can so easily take for granted. That night I reminded myself to be grateful.
I recall doing something similar five years ago. In the early part of 2009 – for a time – I was unable to run. Knee surgery over Christmas and four weeks' abstinence had been prescribed by my doctor. A month wasn't enough, however, as the knee seemed intent on a longer sabbatical.
Four months after the whiff of anaesthesia had left my nostrils, I was starting to question if I would ever be able to run again. By then, this enforced retreat was offering a timely reminder of what a gift I had possessed. In that period I became a little miserable on quite a few occasions.
As spring showers gave way to May sunshine – and despite a few false dawns – I was still largely on the sidelines. Then a magician in the form of a physio appeared and weaved her spell.
In March and April I had given myself quite a reprimand. I had said to myself, "Gerry, if you are ever able to run again, don't you ever forget how lucky you are. Don't you ever have an attitude or mindset saying 'I have to run'. You never 'have to' run Gerry. You 'get to' run."
The enforced lay-off had ingrained a philosophy and left a great legacy. I know there are thousands out there who would love to be able to run and can't.
I committed there and then to reminding myself of this as often as possible. Now, years later, I have become proficient in doing it almost every day. At first I only applied it to running but soon I realised it can apply to anything I do. Of course I have to work but it's a new attitude I can bring to the table.
Now I realise I 'get to'. I know hundreds who would love to have a busy work diary but don't for whatever reason. 'Have to' work or 'get to'. I am not exaggerating when I tell you this has genuinely changed my whole way of thinking and my life as a result.
It has been incredibly empowering waking up to how fortunate I am. Since I have done so, every aspect of my life has been upgraded. Now I always try and focus on what I have, not on what I don't have.
Now I realise I 'get to' run, I 'get to' drive my business, I 'get to' study and to sit exams (back in college again). I 'get to' run seminars, 'get to' clean my house, 'get to' give talks, 'get to' do the garden and I 'get to' learn guitar. Looking back on that time five years ago, I am so grateful for that unwanted sabbatical because I have never forgotten its teaching.
You might say, Gerry you have spoken about this before. I have and I hope to do so again. That is partly why I remember it. I write it down time and time again.
I hope it helped. Oh, and by the way, it makes you appreciate electricity too.
Gerry Duffy is a motivational speaker and endurance athlete. www.gerryduffyonline.com