Last night, I watched Ben Stiller’s latest movie, “Brad’s Status.” Stiller plays the role of a middle-aged dad, touring colleges (Harvard, Tufts) with his high-school-aged son, Brad.
Stiller’s character is in full-blown mid-life existential crisis. His career doesn’t provide the status he longs for. His college friends are, seemingly, far more successful and happy. He feels forgotten. His son might surpass his own achievements. He believes he’s “plateaued.” Throughout the movie, his thoughts are filled with compliant, blame, jealousy, fantasy, and dissatisfaction.
During a conversation with a female Harvard student, of Indian descent, complaining about his life, and acknowledging his own jadedness, the student replies, “You’re fifty years-old and you still think that the world was made for you.” She goes on to accuse him of having “white, middle-aged male, first-world problems,” compared to the majority-world population that lives in poverty, where women have no rights. Though he runs a non-profit, to help fund service organizations, she asks if he knows a single poor person. She concludes by saying, “You’re doing fine. You have everything you need. You’re fine.”
Perspective. We all need perspective.
Stuck in his own internal, repetitive, negative thoughts and angst, Stiller’s character can’t see beyond what his life isn’t. An outside perspective reveals the shallowness of his complaints, and his failure to see his life for what it actually is – privileged.
Don’t we all do that? Isn’t it easy to lose perspective, fixating on our deficiencies and dissatisfactions, rather than all that we have to be thankful for.
Many spiritual teachers suggest the key to maintaining proper perspective is practicing gratitude. G. K. Chesterton said, “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
What are you grateful for, this day?
Right now, I’m grateful for…
- A beautiful, cool, leisurely Saturday morning…
- The time and space to lounge in my bathrobe, this morning, and express my thoughts here
- Twenty-seven happy years of marriage to my best friend
- Two children, and a new daughter-in-law, whom I dearly love and feel immense pride in
- The people who’ve loved me, parented me, mentored me, inspired me, and shaped me
- The privilege of being a pastor for almost twenty-five years, and the great ministries and people I’ve been fortunate to serve
- Knowing God
- Opportunities, daily, to pursue my hopes and dreams
- A beautiful home, a generous salary, and all of my needs – and most of my wants – provided
- The many opportunities and advantages I’ve been afforded in life
- Better friends than I deserve
- The life I have, the life I’ve lived, and the life I still have before me
- Opportunities to keep learning, growing, developing, and becoming
- For all that is easy to say “thank you” for, and for all that took longer to be thankful for
- For perspective
And, I’m deeply grateful to anyone reading these words, or anything else I write. There are certainly many better, more insightful bloggers. There are certainly better ways to spend your time. That you would be interested, and take the time, to read my random thoughts honors and humbles me.
I’m grateful for you.
What are you grateful for?