I was talking to a youngster the other day, a fellow maybe 22 years old, and he was telling me how unhappy he was about the new restrictions placed on our lives because of the pandemic.
Because he's so young he has sort of a sense of entitlement. He kind of has the attitude that the rules surrounding this pandemic that limit contacts between citizens don't apply to him. Usually I'll see him walking around without a mask and I have to remind him that the mask is to protect his life and the lives of others. But because he's so young he feels that he's invulnerable to pandemics, he kinda has the idea that he'll live forever – as do many people his age.
And when he expresses himself that way, I usually suggest that he is selfish and self-centered. Because while he may be strong and young and invulnerable that doesn't mean that he can't carry the virus to someone who's in my generation.
Because he's so young his whole world is centered on himself. But I suggested he look at the world in a different way. I tell him that he should have a sense of gratitude for his life right now, even though he perceives it as being extremely difficult because of this pandemic. And when I mention gratitude, he looks at me like I'm sort of off balance or just too old to understand him. But then I go on.
I point out that there are people in the world who would give their left arm to have the kind of life he enjoys. I point out that he is fortunate enough to live in the United States, even with all the turmoil created by the pandemic, the riots, and the fires that are ripping across the Western states. I suggest to him that he look at the fact that he has employment. An automobile. A home to live in. Abundant good health. Fresh food to eat. And I point out more, but you get the idea.
I suggested he read about people in other parts of the world that don't even have running water. Or enough to eat. Or maybe they're in the middle of a civil war. Perhaps they never had the opportunity to go to school because their country is so poor that they can't afford to educate the population.
Even though he's not an alcoholic or drug addict I tell him about the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous and the other 12 step programs. And one word that is constantly floating around the rooms is gratitude, with maybe acceptance being a close second. And I'm not sure that he understands how those words apply to him because he's neither an addict nor an alcoholic.
But gratitude is a universal term. That it can apply to anyone who wants to have a good and happy life. Because when we're grateful, were not going to get in trouble, nor will we become depressed. Instead will use our gratitude to change our outlook on life. And that will carry us when times are tough.