Why being grateful is can really change your world view


The bells jangled and a man behind the herd poked one of the cows on its bum. “MOVE” He yelled out loud. It was almost sundown and they still had to walk for about a kilometer. Now, this wasn’t a long-distance for a man, but for a man having to make sure all of his herd goes in the right direction this was a long walk. It would most certainly take them two hours to even get to the village, let alone getting all the cattle into the fence...

Appreciate and learn from those who have none

Photo by Ramon Sanchez Orense on Unsplash

The bells jangled and a man behind the herd poked one of the cows on its bum. “MOVE” He yelled out loud. It was almost sundown and they still had to walk for about a kilometer. Now, this wasn’t a long-distance for a man, but for a man having to make sure all of his herd goes in the right direction this was a long walk. It would most certainly take them two hours to even get to the village, let alone getting all the cattle into the fence. The herder was alone, because his son, who always came with him when feeding the cows, got sick the night before. He was stung by some sort of insect, most likely a spider and he needed to rest. He was going to do just fine so the man was happy to go back home and see him. But as the sun was quickly moving behind the horizon he felt the dangers nearing. Being outside of the village walls was no safe.

In the distance, he finally saw the village walls dooming up behind the bush. They were made out of a bush with thorns on them and sticks poked in the ground with sharp ends to keep all the wild animals out. The land around the village was flat, and they could see in all directions from the small wooden watchtower. But at night they didn’t see the lions, cheetahs, hyenas, and other wild animals. So they build a wall to keep them safe, most of all their cattle needed to be kept safe. So they too build a wall around the cattle to keep them safe. None of the cattle had been killed in the past couple of months since they build the wall. It ensured they had milk and meat when a cow was old enough and was about to die.

The sun had gone behind the horizon and in an instance, the light completely turned from golden to a fading yellow that quickly desaturated into a blue night sky. The cattlemen looked behind him and saw the first stars lighting the sky already. The women had just finished picking berries, vegetables, and other eatable food, for that day. They too moved into the village ready to cook and sit around the fireplace. The cattlemen looked forward to tonight’s fire, he had so many amazing stories to share from that day.

Finally, they had made it to the cattle cage. He moved some of the prickly bush away and cut open his underarm. It was always a struggle to pick them up without damaging yourself. The underarms of the cattleman were completely wrapped in small scars. It didn’t hurt, it was a sign for him that he had done good labor and worked hard as a man to provide for his tribe. It was a badge of honor to him. And as he thought that his chest moved forward and his back straightened. A felt proud of it. One by one the cattle moved into the cage mooing and booing their way in. It always made the man laugh, it was a delight to work in harmony with nature. To care for his cows and to make sure that each day they moved to a different part of the land so the land could always recover. Over the years the tribe had learned to take good care of these lands. Some white folks even came by to ask them how they did it. It was their lives work and they were happy to share it.

The last cow moved into the fence and he put the thorn bush back in its place. He thanked the cows for the day and moved to the village entrance. His son was out of bed and walked around the village. He still looked weakened, but he was doing fine. “How are you?” The cattleman asked his son. “Much better, how was the ground today? The boy replied. “It was beautiful and lush, I think it rained last week so it is flourishing again!” The cattleman said and his son quickly replied. “That’s great to hear dad! Mom and the other cooks have prepared diner for us dad so come on let’s go sit around the campfire.”


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The flickering light of the flame

In the middle of the village was a large flickering light of the only fire burning. The villagers formed a circle around it, sitting on logs or the ground. There was one small entrance which was used as a sort of stage on which every night people would share their stories. It was just like a mini-theater, even though none of these people had ever been there. The white man that visited the village had told them this, so they loved sharing this over and over again. On the opposite side of the cattleman sat the chief of the village. He was barely visible through the fire, but the cattleman knew that he sat there. It was his spot to sit around the fire.

The chief looked around the fire and saw his people feast and speak to each other. He was a proud man for ruling this village and making it withstand the changes that his people and he had been seeing in nature. He looked up at the sky and it was filled with a thousand bright flickering points off the light. Stars. The chief loved looking at the sky during a diner. It was as if their light comforted him tremendously. The village wasn’t big, but the people that lived there could be overwhelming to him. He noticed every little detail, and that also made him the best leader in the village thus far. The chief looked down again from the sky and he noticed, through the fire, that the cattleman was looking at him. He smiled but the cattleman didn’t smile back. “He can’t see my face properly I think.” The chief thought to himself. The pots filled with vegetables and rice cooked for the night were almost emptied and the villagers started to chatter about their days.

The cattleman stood up. This was a sign of disrespect if he did not walk up to the empty place in the circle. So he did. He walked to the open spot, and every villager felt quiet. All of their eyes following his movements. The cattleman wanted to share the story of his day. So he decided to share it with everyone around the fire by giving a sort of performance. He knew that not only him but his son would love this too. He stood strong and took a big breath and started to move and speak. His raspy low and deep voice crackled through the air and was reinforced by the fire. “This afternoon, the sun was high in the sky. My cattle were grazing on a fast green land as I stood to watch. I looked around me to see if there was any enclosing danger.” The cattleman had begun his story. He crept through the crowd, moved around them, and whispered or shouted in their ears. His son was proud and knew how well his dad could tell stories. He loved going out with the cattle each day, just so he could come back every night and maybe have a story to share with the others.

“I heard something rustle a few hundred yards away from me. What could it be? My gaze was fixed at the spot from which the rustling came. One of the cows was alarmed to and now all of us were looking in the same direction. After a minute or so, a patch of grass about a foot away from the previous rustled. How could that be?” The chief expressed his thoughts. “How could I have not seen something moving, if it were a lion I would’ve seen it by now. So it was something smaller, yet it sounded just as dangerous. My eyes were now switched between the two patches of grass, trying to figure out which animal it was and where it was going now. Then another movement. Yet really close to us. Still, I couldn’t see anything.” The cattleman was bend through his knees and held his hands in the sky, making sure some sort of climax was coming up. But within a small moment, the cattleman straightened his legs and back again and lowered his hands. “In just a split second I saw it. I saw the beast that I and my cows were scared off.” He looked around the fireplace creating tension for his listeners. In a serious tone he started his story again “it was a small, fluffy and sniffing baby swine.” And the cattleman started to laugh. He laughed seeing the facial expressions when he told these kinds of stories. It was such an anti-climax, but the chief loved it. He clapped his hands and laughed out loud. “I LOVED IT!” He shouted, “I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!” The cattleman made a bow, indicating that his turn to share a story was over.

These stories continued deep into the night. Or at least they thought it was deep in the night, but in reality, they didn’t think of time. It was always the right time and the right moment for them. The group of villagers that sat around the fireplace had shrunk down to just a few. The chief, the cattleman, and some other man and women stared into the fire, admiring its dancing flames. The cattleman got up to check one last time on his cattle and then go to bed. The others decided to go to bed as well. The chief sleeps in a clay hut on the edge of the village, near the entrance. He is the one that will protect the village when someone enters. So he chooses this place as his home. He could hear the cattle move around, the bells around their necks which they received as a gift from the white people made a lot of noise. The bells made sure their cattle were safe from dangerous animals because these animals were scared of loud noises. The chief looked up one last time to the sky, before entering his hut. He saw a star fall out of the sky and laughed. He closed his eyes and felt a deep sense of gratitude for the blessings nature gave them.

A kill in the night

In the middle of the night, the cattle start to move around. The chief is alarmed and wakes up. “What’s going on?” He thinks to himself. But he doesn’t hear any mooing or footsteps so it must just be the cattle that are startled by some bird flying by or something. The chief lays down again and continues his deep sleep. The sun dooms up behind the horizon and the trees covering the horizon become silhouettes blocking the sun. The chief and his villagers got up early with the sun. The chief barely set a foot outside his hut and the cattleman rushed to him. “CHIEF! CHIEF!” He shouted from the distance, trying to get his attention. “Something terrible happened!” He said as he was trying to catch his breath. He stood close to the chief and shared the story. “Two of our cattle have been killed. It’s horrible. Two of our youngest cows sir.” The chief stayed calm and smiled. “Let’s have a look then,” the chief said with utter peace in his voice.

The chief also knew the consequences of this disaster but remained calm. It was his job to stay calm. If he freaked out, everyone else would. If he remained calm everyone else would stay calm too. The two-man neared the cattle cage and the chief noticed the blood on trail running from the entrance to one dead cow body inside the cage and the other outside the cage fully eating to the bone. He wanted to turn his head away from the terrific sight, but he didn’t. He stared at the dad’s animals and felt sorry for them. He knew this was part of the circle of life. The cattleman stands still at the gate and the chief enters the pen himself. Touching some of the cows with compassion. The cows felt stressed but the touch of the chief seemed to calm them. He was not only in contact with himself but with the earth as well. His calm energy and peace influenced everyone around him. He didn’t worry, it was not his job to worry. He kneeled at the butchered cow and followed the tracks. “It must have been a cheetah or lion who could make the jump over the entrance and then pushed it aside from the inside.“ The cattleman said. “I think so too.” The chief said calmly and then continued with a generous and pleasing voice. “Could you clean up the mess for me, I will make sure this cow will not die in vain. We don’t eat a lot of meat but if we just throw away this food we would waste valuable resources.” The cattleman nodded and walked off to get some help.

The chief turned around and he had a smile on his face. The villagers had heard the news and came to see what happened. They saw the chief smiling and were confused. “You must be confused?” The chief said loudly to overrule the chatter of the villagers. The crowd feels silent and the chief continued. “You must be confused by my smile. Why would someone smile at such a sight? I understand that confusion but…” The chief took a deep breath in, kicked up some dirt from the ground, and touched a cows head who was coming close to him. “ We have not only helped ourselves today!” He said with a loud and proud voice. “We have helped nature, this is nothing to worry about, it most certainly is nothing to be mad about. This… is… nature…” The chief said with an emphasis on the last three words. “I am thankful for what happened today, yes I feel sad for two souls to have died in this world but we do not rule over life. This is the circle of life. This is how it was meant to be. So why worry, why be mad, why try to control everything that happens? Why not be thankful for that which we now have. We have helped some animals with food, there is no greater honor than that. Let’s clean up this mess and make a feast of tonight’s meal.

The chief walked up to the cattleman who arrived with a shovel and some other tools they received from the visitor and the chief grabbed the shovel and started to dig up the dirt that was covered in blood. The villagers then turned around and continued with their jobs to keep the village running. The chief smiled whilst digging up dirt. He felt grateful for tonight even though he knew that these cows were very important for their lands and were a massive food source for them. He was hesitant for the future but what would it help to worry about something he couldn’t control. The earth would make sure everything will be alright. New cows will be born and we will be fine. His smile got even larger and he looked up to the sky. He knew that even though the sun was out the stars were still watching over them.


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The circle of life

I know that life sometimes takes things from you that you didn’t feel like you deserved. These villagers didn’t deserve to lose their cows, they took great care of them, they served nature very well. But it isn’t always about punishment. Things being taken from us feel like punishment but that isn’t because of the way it was meant to be. The chief knew this. He knew that whatever happened was there for a reason. It wasn’t meant to punish them for anything he found a great lesson in it for himself. To become a leader, to be generous and grateful for what happened.

So can you. I felt that the things that were taken from me were a punishment, but this was not because of the way nature intended them to be. I saw these things as a punishment simply because we humans think that we can have everything, at any time, at any moment, and that when something is taken from us it is a punishment or we didn’t deserve it. We might use punishment as an excuse to not accept what happened. To try to get it back, to feel angry, or sad, or scared. But what if we simply felt grateful?

That would be a change of perspective wouldn’t it? It would mean that you feel peaceful and joyful for everything that happens to you. Just like the chief in this story. He knew the consequences, he knew that this was gonna be a tough time for them. But still, he was grateful. He knew that the animals who took the cows from them needed it more than they did. He found a lesson in what happened. He needed no story or book, all he did was simply to live his life. He was present and acted in the best way for the villagers, not for himself. He was selfless and in that he too found joy and peace.

It is the circle of life. The way things go. There are times in which we receive and times in which we lose. It keeps the whole thing in balance. But what we don’t see is that we receive most of the time and lose only a fraction of the time. Now, this is up to us to see. To understand. Nature and this world is overflowing in abundance and will give more than it takes always. This is called the law of Pareto or the 80/20 rule. 20 percent of what you do will result in 80 percent of the results. The world is balanced positively, in this way. Pareto figured this out. We do not suffer 80% of our lives. Rather 20% of our lives are spent in suffering but we make it feel like 80% because we stay in there too long. But there is a simple fix. The chief showed you all about it.

Thankful for the death of two cows

Be thankful. That’s it. Be thankful for it all. The chief could have been made about the loss of his cows, he could have chosen to feel shit but he didn’t. He chose gratitude, he chose his perspective on the matter and it made him more joyful. So can you. Everything we lose in life, every setback, failure, a moment of pain, and suffering is something to be grateful for. So smile, see that which is given to you and all that will be taken from you will seem insignificant.

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