The other day a famous designer took her own life. I don’t know what the circumstances were. What I do know was what her loved ones said afterwards. Kate Spade, had been suffering from depression for years but was unwilling to seek help because she was concerned about how it would reflect on her brand’s image.  That was her excuse – no one outside of her inner circle know’s whether that was the reason or if there were other ones. She left behind a daughter, a husband and a lot of people who loved her and who’s lives can only be negatively impacted by her loss. 

I read a book the other day and I took from it one piece of advice which I cling to. With all the craziness happening in the world, the volcanoes, earthquakes, other “natural” disasters and terrorism – we must remain grateful.

I have several friends who have battled cancer – some have succeeded, some are still fighting and others have lost.

I have several friends who have battled depression – some have been treated, continue to be treated and others simply “man up” regardless of their gender. The ones who believe they can “man up” are the ones who are screaming, crying, hiding or shaking – if they are lucky. Others find a way to end their pain and those are the hardest to take.

I have several friends who have financial burdens that others would never even notice. They vacation, they drive fancy cars and dress in expensive clothing. They are slaves to their appearances and have sacrificed their souls to others in order to keep their friends and place in the society or community in which they live. To them – those placeholders are what validates their lives – to them without it, they are failures and fodder for the distributors of gossip and juicy news. They know this because they are part of those groups and their best friends and family will be the first to whisper the “crazy news” about “Henry and June.”

Cheating spouses, lying bosses, brother vs. brother and families torn apart by greed, jealousy and resentment. All in the name of the mighty dollar and what it can bring for them.

The person in the ICU dying from cancer would trade every penny he has for the chance to be healthy and financially ruined.

The person with the rope around their neck would give everything they have for peace of mind and the ability to feel the sun shining.

The lonely soul who watches the couples dancing – dreams of a time when they will be the one dancing.

The ones who are unemployed, would work any job to bring in some pride and money into his home.

The orphans who would do anything for an evening with family – arguments, insinuations, jealousies, et al. They dream of a sibling or a parent whom they can turn to…shake their heads in disbelief when those relationships are crumpled up and tossed away.

The world is tough. There is no doubt about it. I do not have to spell it out to anyone – maybe to the ones drunk in the habit of distraction, but those people are so adept at ignoring feelings and empathy that they are far from salvation.

Natural disasters, terrorism, disease, finances and overall human frailty can all create a lethal cocktail which we have no choice but to drink. So how do we combat all of this?

As the book communicates, in an elegant way, we must learn to be grateful in order for us to appreciate the world around us.

When you wake up in the morning, before you get out of bed, think about 5 or 10 things that you are grateful for. Health, food, loved ones, your character traits that you appreciate (creativity, your smile, how you treat others, your talents, your dreams, etc).  

The money you have in your bank account; even if it’s down to one digit it’s still more than others and even if it’s negative, it’s still more than other people owe out.

Entertainment, the songs you love, films, TV, sports, art and of course, the written words.

Memories that you cherish, the aromas, the sounds, the blossoming trees, the autumn leaves, the first snowfall, a thunderstorm.

A sunny day with highs in the 70’s and low 80’s; days at the beach and sand in your shorts. The dewy grass on a summer morning, the clear starry sky, a harvest moon and of course, sunrise and sunsets.

Smiles on little children, big children and adults – the sound of laughter and the feel of an embrace. The touch of a friend and the feeling of someone taking your hand to hold.

Parents and the fact that no matter what you ever did they still stood beside you either clumsily or skillfully, but always with an unspoken unconditional love.

God and your own way of believing or not believing.

Your inner voice which only you can hear…thankfully.

When you smile to yourself, because, well, you can.

Not everyone is able to accept, to hear or to see the blessings or just what they have to be thankful for. Depression, sickness and loss can make it very hard to see clearly. We all must have the humility to accept that we need help when we need it. Our lives are more just ourselves and yes, that can be overwhelming. But it can also be an empowering feeling as well.   

I don’t have the answers – all I can say is maybe if we make it a habit from when we are in a good place, to appreciate and to count, literally count, our blessings; when the hard times come, and they will come – this routine can help you focus on reasons for you to be thankful and somehow give you strength to seek help before it’s too late.