I am well aware that I have already hit the lottery. Not in the "I just won millions of dollars" sense, but in the sense of the life I have been fortunate to have lived so far.
I won the lottery the minute I was born in this country, and I've been winning it everyday since that moment 49 years ago. I live where there is overwhelming peace compared to other countries. I live where I have freedom to express myself. I live where I can choose my occupation.
The United States is far from perfect, but there is so much to be thankful for and I know I take it for granted.
All I have to do to be grounded when I'm feeling "woe is me" is to take a look at a picture that was taken in 2003. It was the mission trip to El Salvador where we built a home for a family who had lost theirs in an earthquake in 2001. Their home for two years was basically living in a tentlike home that was little more than a tarp. The home we built for them was made of cinder blocks with no actual windows, a dirt floor, and no electricity or indoor plumbing. However, it was a major improvement from what they had.
Christmas gives me such a tremendous opportunity to reflect on all that I have: an amazing family, incredibly great health, a job I enjoy going to everyday, a wonderful home in a cozy village, a car to drive, food in the cabinets and refrigerator.
I can't think of a single thing I would want at this point in my life.
And in some ways I'm a little embarrassed by that. I have all my needs and wants covered. Yes, I'm trying to scale back on what I own, and even though I have made strides it has merely been a dent in what I want to get rid of. There's so much stuff that I have that I don't need and that someone else does need. That's the embarrassing part.
For me simplifying means living with less and being happier as a result. It means enjoying experiences, like working in the El Salvador heat and enjoying fresh pineapple during our lunch break. That was our dessert. The funny thing is, as a self-proclaimed sweet tooth, I don't remember missing sweets while I was gone. We didn't have them available, so they weren't there to miss. Funny how that works.
So, as I prepare to enjoy the holidays with our family over the next few days, I'm going to make a conscious effort to simply enjoy the experience of having time together. As the saying goes, it doesn't matter what is under the tree but more importantly who is around it.
I'm a lover of life, an eternal optimist, and I have an intense desire to add value through simple living and positive vibes.