Kenny: Grateful for Nothing
The greatest life lessons are earned by experience.
As I sat next to this man, dressed in torn clothes, reeking of some rancid stench with years of unwashed filth covering his body and a cigarette dangling from his lips, I listened while he explained “If I could only have one wish, granted right now…”
“…I would wish for nothing. I am happy. It’s nice to sit out here reading on a beautiful day. I have all I want. I am grateful for nothing.”
After speaking with Kenny it was obvious that he possesses far more than he realizes. Though he may be lacking in physical possessions, Kenny has far more that most of us do. He has gratitude.
Can you imagine what it would be like to wonder where you are going to use the bathroom? Where you are going to sleep? How you are going to stay warm at night? Where you are going to get your next meal?
Can you imagine yourself without the comfort of your smartphone? Without clean clothes? Without a shower? Without a family to come home to?
Can you imagine having nothing? Imagine yourself in that situation…are you grateful for nothing?
Could you find something to be thankful for, even in the midst of such challenging circumstances? Recognizing and being appreciative of your blessings is a skill worth more than all the riches of this world. Once you learn gratitude, nothing will prevent you from finding happiness and joy in life.
Once you learn to be thankful your vision will change. You will be able to see clearly. You’ll find that even when things can’t seem to get any worse, you can pull out your gratitude shades and see the beauty that exists around you. Notice something positive. Count your blessings. Notice the small victories.
“I’ve lived outside for ten years now…You get used to it, you really do. My goal now is to try and survive and enjoy the next ten…Every time that sun pops over that mountain it’s a new day with something on the way. Take it as it comes along. Take all the good ones and ignore the bad ones. I meet new people, make friends and try not to make enemies. Every day out here is different.”
Live in today! Bring the wisdom you’ve learned from the past with you and do not worry about what the future holds. Being able to enjoy today is free for everyone no matter what your circumstances.
“The greatest life lessons are earned by experience. You can’t go to any university in this country and learn experience. I hope people are getting out and experiencing life for themselves…that’s how people grow up.”
Wisdom is not free. We do not appreciate what we did not earn. Though he is homeless and may very well die a man without a place to call home, Kenny is a man full of the wisdom that he has earned through his experiences. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Do not be afraid to break away from your established routines and try something new. You may find a new passion – a new talent – a new love. Today can be the best day of your life.
Sometimes when talking to someone you can experience the complete opposite of what you expected. When I first approached Kenny after an interview with the Mayor of Salt Lake City, I did not expect to be taught such wisdom. This experience reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson who said “every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.”
Be sure to check out my interview next week with the CEO of a company that will make you a hero every month.