To Whom Are You Grateful?

To whom are you grateful? Who has made your life better? More productive? More enjoyable?

There are a host of people who have made my life better. Too many to thank in this essay.

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Let’s start with those who helped me fight my disabling disorder that has plagued me most of my life.

I suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I thought I’d never get over my fears back in the early 1970’s.

I feared God Almighty and felt that if I conceived certain negative thoughts about Him, thereby insulting Him, I was going to be punished. I would repeat myself every moment of my life, camouflaged these negative thoughts.

But with the help of one of my psychologists, Tammy and a minister friend, Mr. Rule, they convinced me by giving into my compulsions, I was insulting God even more. I was denouncing His forgiving and healing powers.

Their wisdom began to sink in and I soon began to confront my fears.

And then, there is Dr. Abraham A. Low, who in the 1930’s founded “Recovery Inc.” and author of his book “Mental Health Through Will Training” used at Recovery Inc., meetings. There is a host of wisdom in his book to combat my OCD (back then, there was no OCD, just obsessions and compulsions). My favorite is:

“What obsesses your brain is an idea. You know from experience that ideas come and go. How is it that it “obsesses” you and occupies your attention all the time? The reason is that the actions of your muscles feed this idea and reinforce it incessantly preventing it from leaving the brain as ideas ordinarily do. That idea would die a natural death within a short time, as ideas commonly do, if you permitted it to expire.”

There are others who helped me combat my OCD: the wisdom of Australian physician Dr. Claire Weekes in several of her books – “Hope And Help For Your Nerves.” is one of them. 

And the author who came up what the letters in the word “FEAR” should stand for: “False Evidence Appearing Real” and “Face Everything And Recover”. The latter is a favorite.

And the person who wrote the line for one of the promises of 12 step programs that “one can find peace despite living with unresolved problems.” We use it in Obsessive Compulsive Anonymous.

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Many of the people to whom I am grateful are writers, poets, historical figures who are no longer with us.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his preaching of non-violence.  If we could all be like him.

 I wonder if I’m making a difference. Poet Emily Dickinson sets me straight:

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.”

I wonder if I am on the right path. Others seem to be happy. I question my journey. Should I stand up for who I am or follow the crowd. 

I thank Ralph Waldo Emerson and his essay “Self Reliance” for setting me straight:

“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.”

I neglect my natural gifts and talents. At times, I get very frustrated with them. But Jesus in His parable of talents  (Matt 25: 14 – 30) teaches about neglecting these natural talents and gifts.

“Several servants are given money to invest while their owner is away.  Upon returning, the first two have invested their share, making money for their owner. But the third hides his money. The owner is upset. To which he (the owner) says: (verse 29) For everyone who has will be given more and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has, will be taken from him.”

And, then, there is the late Dr. Leo Buscaglia who made the study and practice of love his life’s mission: “Man has no choice but to love. For when he does not, he finds his alternatives lie in loneliness, destruction and despair.”

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I am grateful to the Allied Forces who fought and died for our freedoms especially in World War 2. What would have happened if Hitler had won that war?

And let’s not forget those men and women from all walks of life who confront and conquer adversity. They are our role models. We should be looking up to them for inspiration and strength while we go through our struggles.

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As strange as it may sound, I thank, reluctantly, those who have rejected me and some of my ideas/projects, etc.  Though I’m sure it was not their intent.

I do not believe these failures were caused by the Almighty. They happened because of man’s free will.

But Almighty God gives us the strength to go on, to learn, to become wiser.

My failures are many: I’ve always wonder what would have happened if I had succeeded where would I be.

I tried setting up a comedy troupe to employ the psychiatric/physically challenge communities but failed drastically. I wondered if I married that lovely lady from England what would have happened.

Yes, I would have been happy. No doubt. But I am also certain that I would not have learned wisdom unless I confronted those failures.

If all we experience is joy, glory, no suffering, we don’t learn, mature, grow. More importantly, we cannot experience joy unless it’s balanced with pain and suffering.

“The gem cannot be polished without friction nor man perfected without trials” says a Chinese proverb.

It’s when the pain and suffering becomes totally unbearable.

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A few more people to thank:

To our own Chuck Gallozzi, lead contributor to this newsletter. Through Chuck, I have gotten many of my essays published. We don’t see eye to eye on all things. No two people ever do.

But he’s a delight to be around, with his wacky sense of humor. Always encouraging me to write and submit essays (even if they get rejected). The rejected ones usually end up at

And his wisdom. Yes, his wisdom. I cherish that and his friendship and generosity.

Finally, to you, dear readers of this newsletter and sister newsletter who have taken the time to read my submissions, write to me, thanking me, even criticizing me. I like to know I’m making a difference.

To all, I thank you. To those I forgot and should have mentioned, my apologies.