“If you would know the greatest sum in all addition, count your blessings.” That quote was on a poster that hung on the wall in my Algebra II class sophomore year. It wasn’t anything fancy, didn’t have some inspiring photograph or elaborate design. It was just thirteen words.
As far as I know, it was first spoken by one of the most famous people in the history of, well, history – Author Unknown. I don’t think anyone else has received more credit for some our most profound quotes and enduring works of literature. Except maybe Anonymous.
Its origin, however, is unimportant; its message is what we should focus on. It’s a truth so simple in its complexity that we often overlook the wisdom in taking action. Have you ever taken time to sit down and literally count your blessings? Have you ever considered what the word even means to you, personally? Serious moment now: what is a “blessing”? How do you know which things in your life would be on that list, and which would be left off?
As a practicing logophile (don’t be concerned, it means “lover of words”), I looked up the definition in Webster’s (my favorite dictionary). Turns out it has several meanings: “a wish or prayer for happiness or success; any cause of happiness; good wishes or approval; a grace said before or after eating.”
That last one makes me laugh. Brings back so many memories from childhood! Oh, the stories I could share….But another time; no rabbit trails. Except, I have to admit, I also looked up the word “blessing” in a search engine, just to see what I got, and among things, you can find Blessing at Half.com! (Laughing out loud!)
Anyway, given the context of this quote, I want to focus on the second definition provided by Mr. Webster, “any cause of happiness”. At first you may be thanking me for making this task of “count your blessings” a little easier; all you have to do is write down any cause of happiness in your life. Yes, that’s all you have to do. Here my friends, is where the complex simplicity of this truth hits you with full force: are you letting that happiness in?
Having Asperger’s, I have trouble recognizing emotions when I experience them. I show them physically – I blush when I’m embarrassed, my eyes widen and I talk faster when I’m excited – but the part of my brain that kicks on and says “I feel embarrassment” or “I feel excited” doesn’t work properly. That’s where my friends come in; the more I’m made aware of it when it’s happening, the easier it is for me to say, “Oh, ok, so that’s what that feeling means!”
However, I do know when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. (Along the way I’ve also learned to recognize frustrated, mostly because my reflex reaction is to cry in about 2.5 seconds, and on a few occasions I’ve recognized anger.) So I can sit down and make a list of things that make me happy. In fact, I’ve done that several times, it’s quite relaxing and often helps me change my attitude about the day. But. I don’t always let that happiness take root and start to grow.
While you ponder this idea, and perhaps begin to make your “list of happy” (which I highly recommend everyone doing), I want you to consider something else: today is National Accountant’s Day. I sent a well wish to my Uncle Rob, he’s a CPA in Seattle. It’s probably too late for you to do the same if you happen to know one. So instead, why not share a laugh with me. I found this joke online: “An accountant was suffering from insomnia so he went to see his doctor. ‘Doctor,’ he began, ‘I am unable to sleep.’ ‘Well,’ the doctor replied, ‘Have you tried counting sheep?’ ‘That’s precisely the problem,’ the accountant admitted. ‘I make a mistake, and it takes me four hours to find the error!’”