What does blessing mean to us? Does it mean that things are going well, in the right direction? Prosperity, health, and wealth? We all can agree that it’s a very positive thing, but when we try to define blessing, it suddenly seems surprisingly elusive. So, do we know exactly what we’re talking about? The bible says:
And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” (Genesis 1:22)
This would fit in with the idea of prospering – fruitfulness and multiplication. In Chinese culture there are five blessings, also known as the “Five Happiness” or “Five Good Fortunes”, which refer to longevity, wealth, health and composure, love of virtue, and the desire to die a natural death in old age (or timely death).
Then there’s the Mangala Sutta or the sutta on happiness whereby buddha teaches the 11 blessings which bring happiness. https://buddhaweekly.com/mangala-sutta-the-sutra-on-happiness-buddha-teaches-the-11-blessings-those-things-which-bring-happiness/
Blessing may be defined as making a special effort to appreciate the good things in one’s life. So how does one count one’s blessings? Here’s what I found on Google:
- Being grateful instead of complaining
- Doing everything with your full attention
- Enjoying simple pleasures
- Making time for other people. …
- Cultivating your dreams but not letting them breed discontent
- Don’t wish your time away
According to studies by Robert Emmons those who practice grateful thinking “reap emotional, physical and interpersonal benefits.” These become more significant as we age, as counting your blessings affects your overall health. People who regularly keep a gratitude journal report fewer illness symptoms, feel better about their lives as a whole, and are more optimistic about the future.
When one is retired or approaching retirement, we tend to look back on what we have achieved in life. This rather depends on the kind of profession one has led. For academics, we look back and bask in the glory of the highest position we held in the academic hierarchy and all the recognitions, awards, accolades, and so on.
However, not all of us are fortunate enough to have achieved our hopes and dreams. Upon retiring, some of us become dissatisfied, unhappy, and altogether turn into unpleasant people without considering how this attitude affects loved ones. Even a homemaker may think that she has lived her entire life as a drudge when the children have grown up and gone their ways.
Success stories parallel with stories of failure, so one needs to have a positive perspective in one’s retirement years by counting one’s blessings and being grateful for the things one does have. This contributes to mental wellbeing freeing your mind from toxic thoughts.
My mother-in-law used to tell me to count my blessings whenever I confided in her with what I deemed my failures. A gentle and caring homemaker, she was contented with what she considered her blessings in life; a roof over her head, food on the table, a close-knit family of children and grandchildren. Our favourite pastime was watching Tamil movies together. She could understand a smattering of Tamil, so it didn’t matter that there were no subtitles. Tamil dramas don’t need any subtitles as action speaks louder than words. Recalling this memory itself is a blessing for me.
There are many blessings around us, be it a simple sunset to a beautiful lake or a magnificent flower parade. The world is full of beauty, and choosing to embrace your blessings will allow you to see all the good that you’ve been given with gratitude.
Being thankful for the blessings in your life fills your heart with peace, joy, and hope. This releases the feel-good hormones that energize you and provide you with mental and physical wellbeing.
Whether it’s your family, your career, or even your cup of coffee in the morning, there are so many things to be grateful for. You need to focus more of your attention on them.
A message to all those unhappy, discontented people who are retired and past their prime in life: count your blessings as there are bound to be some; you just haven’t looked hard enough. Be happy and content and live the rest of your days with what you still have.
Reflect upon your everyday blessings of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some”Charles Dickens
So, count your blessing instead of your troubles and become a blessing yourself too!
Dr. Thazin Han is a retired radiologist interested in medical education. She worked as an education officer at the Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, the National University of Singapore, from 2007 to 2019. She is retired but still practices radiology part-time and is a resource person and committee member of the Department of Medical Education, Defence Services Medical Academy.