How do you feel rich in ways money can't buy? Readers share their stories of inner abundance. Share your own thoughts in the Contributors' Comments area below.
My husband and I have faced some serious financial stress during the past year, and it's forced us to look for ways to make lasting family memories without spending a lot of money. Last summer we drove to the country with our three teenagers in the middle of the night, spread blankets in an empty field, and watched a meteor shower. Experiences like these help us remember that we're abundantly blessed with family and the hope of a better future together.
-- Terri Thompson, Minneapolis
My work at a large hospital and long-term-care facility has shown me how limited life can be when you're suffering from an illness and dependent on an institution's schedule. I'm grateful every day for the abundance of choices I have: I'm free to go where I want when I want, free to spend hours in my own garden, free to cook and eat a variety of food at any time of day, free to design my own life. These liberties amount to an abundance we too often take for granted.
-- Vivian Imperiale, San Francisco
The Bright Side
When I'm having a bad day, I think of my son. He was born deaf and has cerebral palsy, and at first we weren't sure if he would ever walk. But with a lot of hard work and prayers, 27 years later he can work, drive, and more. Too many people focus on the negatives. I always try to find the positive, and I feel lucky to have loving family and friends. My life is so rich with joy and peace -- I wouldn't trade it for anything.
-- Shelley Dona, Coventry, Rhode Island
It's All Good
Last spring, I was mountain biking at our local state park when I flipped over my handlebars, breaking one of my vertebrae. I was lucky: A hiker found me and went for help. After a month of bed rest, I was inspired to do everything I could to speed my recovery, as well as share my enthusiasm for life with others. I've found that just a smile and a positive attitude can really affect those around me. Now every day is truly a great day.
-- Jean Smith, Sioux City, Iowa
One December when my husband and I were struggling to make ends meet, a newspaper ran letters to Santa from local children. A second grader, a voracious reader who lived nearby, had asked for books. Without hesitation, I chose several I'd been saving for when my own daughter was older and took them to the girl's teacher. I learned that the child often spent hours alone after school before her single mother got home from a manufacturing job. The teacher assured me the girl had read her way through the school library and would love the new books. This gift would help her, but it enriched me even more to know that, despite my own financial woes, I was able to help someone else.
-- Anne Nadel, Marshfield, Vermont
Stop, Sit, and See
I'll often take a moment to sit somewhere and watch the world around me. Whether I'm people-watching from a city bench or looking out a window at the birds, I make a conscious effort to learn something from whatever I see. Children do this naturally, and when you watch them do it, you can see their faces light up. But adults often forget to take the time. I find it's a great exercise in compassion and empathy, for others and for myself.
-- Claudia Oldenstein, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Want to Be in the Magazine?
What's the biggest risk you've taken, and what life lessons did you learn from it? Did your risk pay off in the end? Email your message and look for it in a selection of stories and sage advice from readers in our May 2008 issue. Please include your name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.