Today I was in the steam room cooling down (I mean warming up!) after yoga and the hot tub and got to speaking with someone there (let’s call him Raz* – sounds like a good made up name, right?). The conversation started out fairly innocently as I simply said, “How are you doing?” and he said fine, and then asked me if I was going back to work today (I was there during lunch time). I answered that I was, and then Raz told me he hasn’t worked in two and a half years. That was when he proceeded to tell me his story.
* In order to protect his identity, I have switched or left out a few small details, especially his name.
Pulled From Working Due to Health Issues
So the first step that led to his working woes was a health issue. Raz had a stroke which turned out needed surgery – so he got the surgery, and then tried to go back to work. Unfortunately, the field that he works in is a highly specialized field that needs its people at the top of their game, no matter what, including a licensing body overseeing everything (think doctors, surgeons, air traffic controllers, chemical engineers, pharmacists, etc).
More Testing to Get Back to Work
And so, even after showing that he is medically ready to get back to work, they still needed more tests done. This time he needed to demonstrate mental ability. So he scheduled the test and went in to take it – at which point Raz found out that the test was testing things that practically no one ever does or practices – and does it timed as well! Needless to say, he failed (basically anyone you know would have failed the test as well).
Raz spoke to the test proctor and said, “What do you think would happen if you tried to do what I do, out of the blue and with no training?”
The proctor responded, “I’d probably fail.”
“No,” he said, “You would definitely fail. And here you have given me a test that I had no warning to prepare for, and I’ve failed.”
The proctor may have gotten the point (or not), but at that point it didn’t matter. There was a minimum time period that must pass before continuing the process; and so, Raz waited, but this time, Raz studied like crazy so that he would be able to beat the test.
Yet, around halfway into the testing, the proctor told him, “I’m just going to stop you here….look, you are getting the answers right, but just not in a short enough time window. Come back and try again.” But remember, a retake only happens months down the line.
3rd Time’s a Charm
And so Raz waited, again. And Raz took the test, again. But, this time he passed! And so he took all of his documentation and submitted it for reconsideration, and is now, FINALLY, simply waiting for an answer.
The Desire to Work
What burned up Raz so much was simply that he WANTED to work, and he simply isn’t able to at this point. His point to me was, enjoy every minute that you have work and that you are able to do it, because there may be one point in time that you can’t. But I felt there was so much more to learn from this experience…
Learning True Gratitude; For Everything
My point that I want to make, and the I observed from the first moment, is that it isn’t just work that we have to be grateful for. We have a tremendous amount – even if you think not. In our digital world, where it is easy to compare our lives to so many more people than before, a constant comparison can leave one feeling downright lousy. It used to just be your neighbors, cars and the grass, but now it is so much more, it is everyone you have ever met and friended, and comparing cars, vacations, fun, restaurants, and more.
Express Gratitude in Your Life
If you took a few minutes to look around your life, you can definitely determine some things to be truly grateful for. I would recommend expressing the gratitude to a Higher Power of your understanding (to borrow from old Bill :), but really you can express the gratitude to anyone in your life and reap the benefits.
Learning to truly find appreciation for the things around us can help you find more peace in your life, and can help you appreciate the things you have while you have them, instead of waking up in 20 years when it may no longer be available to you, and saying, “If only…”
This would leave a person with the pain of regret, instead of the knowledge that they truly felt grateful for what they had while they had it – in fact, this gratitude could even help in that situation, as practicing expressing gratitude every day would help a person find the reasons to be grateful even after losing a job.
Thank you, Raz, for this lesson in gratitude.
Further reading on gratitude and its health benefits:
- How Expressing Gratitude Might Change Your Brain Science of Us, 2016
- In Praise of Gratitude Harvard Health, 2011
- The Science Behind Gratitude and How it Can Change Your Life Happify, accessed 2017
- Choose to Be Grateful It Will Make You Happier New York Times, 2015