why you should always be grateful

The narrative of my life changed when I emptied my mind and experienced kindness. Not because I became luckier, connected with the right people or changed my life in any way but because I became conscious of kindness and the gifts life offers. Only now, more than ten years later I realized what has actually happened.

a journey with an unknown destination

In January 2020 I began a journey with an unknown destination. I forced myself to leave even if I didn’t feel like it because in the past every journey turned out to be a priceless enrichment. Out of curiosity, I took a plane to Kirgistan in Central Asia. From there I traveled to Almaty in Kazachstan and took a 24-hour train to Astana, the second coldest capital in the world.

However, even after a month, I didn’t find the flow I found on all my past trips. I had the money and the time to still travel anywhere in the world. I felt like going home and I also felt like walking the Camino Santiago again. In the end, I decided to go to India for the second time.

when things turn bad

I stayed in Delhi India at my friend’s place. We went to the gym, had a normal life and visited some places in and around Delhi but you could say we were lazy. It was not an adventure and after ten days I decided to head to Varanasi, the only place I ever really wanted to visit in India. Because I was too slow the trains were fully booked and I went for a more expensive flight. Arriving in Varanasi was madness already but that was just the beginning.

After two nights in this unexplainable place, I began feeling sick. I am not picky but the hostel I stayed at was uncomfortable. Again I didn’t plan for my return to Delhi but wanted to leave the same day and therefore booked another expensive flight. Back in Delhi, my health condition got worse and I booked another flight to return home two days later.

when they turn even worse

Back in Austria at the beginning of March, my healthy condition reached a critical point. I stayed in bed unable to do anything. The only time I left the house was for my near-daily visit to the doctor’s office. The doctor diagnosed a bacteria I got infected with back in Varanasi. Therefore I got antibiotics prescribed but I had bad side effects. When I researched these antibiotics I found out that they were pure poison and that they shouldn’t even be prescribed anymore.

With my side effects, the bacteria in full swing and severe symptoms of dehydration I checked myself into the hospital. Medical examinations began. I got diagnosed with a thrombosis but within a week the doctors were able to fix me and I went home. A day after Austria got locked down for Coronavirus.

being positive or negative is a choice

I am a tour guide who worked part-time at a hostel. With Austria in lockdown, there are no more tourists and the hostel is closed. I spent most of my money on the journey. All that was left was invested in bitcoin and bitcoin crashed.

That’s where it’s time for a reality check.

Being sick, hospitalized, broke, unemployed. I was already unemployed when I came home because I took a break from the hostel that lasted for another month. However, I was in social security protection until the very day I first visited the doctor. Because of that first visit and the notification of illness, my protection got extended. The hospital, the doctor’s bill and everything else was covered.

Because of Austria being in lockdown my company won’t have any business this year. However, my company doesn’t have any expenses, my mum is very supportive and me and my girlfriend are minimalists. We can cut our costs to the bare minimum. So I could complain about the business being ruined or be grateful for the food and the shelter I can still afford for a while. In almost every situation in life, you will have to make a decision like that. To choose positivity and gratefulness is a personal responsibility.

If we don’t do it for ourselves we should at least do it for those worse off.

being positive in life is a habit

During the journey I was indecisive. I stayed in Astana, the second coldest capital in the world at minus 20 degrees Celcius, for two weeks because I didn’t know where to go next.
Later, however, I managed to leave Varanasi and Delhi at just the right time. Would I have waited a day or two, I wouldn’t have been able to leave anymore because of my food poisoning. It would have been one thing to be stuck at my friend’s place in Delhi but a nightmare to be stuck and sick in Varanasi.

My bacterial infection was contagious. Therefore I got a single room at the hospital. I was released a day after the lockdown of Salzburg. Because I had a lot of time and was constantly reading the news I knew how this would go. After Austria decided to lockdown I was relieved yet the medical staff was constantly entering and leaving my room and none of them were wearing protective gear.
Imagine being on the frontline of the outbreak. Imagine having to work at the supermarket for minimum wage and returning to your family every evening without knowing if you contracted the virus!

Who am I to complain about being sick, broke and unemployed. There are people in Austria worse off than me and there are many countries where people will be worse off than in Austria.

but life is fatal. we are all going to die

Right. We are all going to die and there is a fair bit of pain along the way but that’s true for all of us. I believe it’s not a reason to be negative. Quite the opposite. It’s a reason to accept what can’t be changed. The fact that life won’t last. The fact that that’s everything we know for sure is the reason we don’t have to hang on to those minor losses. Not meaning that small things don’ matter but that there is always something left to be grateful for.

Trying to see the flipside of bad things happening is an exercise which when practiced regularly becomes automatic and the way we look at things eventually changes the things we look at.

Gerhard Reus