In the hit Broadway play, Every Brilliant Thing, a 7-year-old boy makes a list of everything that’s brilliant about the world. He began the list as a present to his mother because he instinctively felt his mom was at a low point in her life.
As you might imagine, the No. 1 most brilliant thing on this 7-year-old’s list was ice cream. No. 3 on the list was staying up past your bedtime and being allowed to watch television. I definitely can relate to No. 3.
The list grew as the boy became a teenager, then an adult. The list was in no particular order, but to make the list, something had to be genuinely wonderful and life affirming.
No. 517 –– knowing someone well enough to get them to check for spinach in your teeth. No. 993 –– having dessert as the main course. No. 11,003 –– realizing that for the first time in your life someone is occupying your every waking thought.
The list grew and grew until it reached 1 million brilliant things. A million things. That tells us that life is such a precious gift. It also tells us something else –– for many of us, our glass is more than half full, and we should be grateful.
The first month of the new year is behind us. If you made a few resolutions for the new year, I hope you are still holding on to them. If you have slipped a little, I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
February gives us a chance to refocus. After all, what word comes to mind this month –– love. More than what we might do on Feb. 14 –– and all of us will do our best to honor our wife or husband that day, if we know what’s good for us. We can embrace a more broad view of the world and dedicate ourselves to respecting everyone we meet.
We also can show others the difference between a positive attitude and a negative attitude. If we do indeed believe we have a good life, we can reinforce that by letting those around us see we choose to be happy.
I guess the goal might be to move past happiness and have a real joy in our life. There is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness revolves around things of this world; joy is more ethereal in nature. It comes from an inner contentment. I do think contentment is the right word. If we are content, we are in a good place.
Don’t get me wrong. I do understand the nature of being human. Every day isn’t a good day. We will have a run of days that aren’t so hot, maybe even a run of dark days. But if we stay the course, I do believe we will come out on the other side.
So, if we are happy, content, filled with joy, any of those wonderful feelings, we can show our gratitude. Perhaps Feb. 14 is a good day to begin. After we honor those we love, we can move beyond our inner circle and reach out to those we don’t know.
Select a non-profit organization –– we have many, many, good ones –– and volunteer. Being a volunteer for a day is great, but think about volunteering on a regular basis. Once you make it part of your lifestyle, it’s no big deal. It’s just something you do each week or each month. All boats do rise with the tide. We can become a stronger community if we all work together across every strata of life.
Life really is a precious gift. Along the continuum of life, we discover what is really important. If we are healthy, then life is good. If we have a support system (family, for example), then life is good. If we have a job, then life is good. If we have a roof over our heads, then life is good. If we have food in our refrigerator, then life is good.
There are so many ways to slice and dice our time on earth. We can choose to live our life with a dark cloud hanging over us. We can choose to be miserable and make others miserable. That doesn’t sound like too much fun to me.
I’m content. I’m happy, and sometimes full of joy. And, most of all, I’m grateful. And that is a brilliant thing.