Joe, one of my mentors, shared a deep insight tonight. As he lay in his hospital bed he taught me how to be grateful where you are.

All his life Joe has been an active person. He has traveled the world over, hiked amazing places, competed in many sports, and engaged in activities that kept his brain and body stimulated. For the last couple decades he has studied the art of sailboat racing. He is a force to be reckoned with on the local racing circuit, typically taking home the gold medal.

I first met Joe in the context of sailing, during an event for disabled people at Footloose Sailing Association. He was sharing the joys of sailing and teaching the disabled sailors. Later I joined his racing team. Joe is eager to share his love and knowledge of sailing with anyone interested, and I was like an eager sponge. Dried out and ready to soak up his knowledge.

Though he has taught me a lot about how to sail fast and sail well, he more importantly taught me how to think. He showed me that problems are only problems if you let them be, or they can be new opportunities. He taught me how to think about the “why” behind something, to understand what it did before it did it. And he taught me how to think quickly on my feet and make the most of changing situations. Sailboat racing is no walk in the park. It is a mental and emotional chess game, just like life.

Joe did not get to cruise in his sailboat this summer due to his health issues. He got in only a couple races, but as he was laying in that bed, voraciously listening to tales of my adventures, he said something profound.

“I may not have had a summer, but I as I reflected I realized I have had a lot of great sailing adventures in my life. In the grand scheme of things one summer does not matter. As I look out this window I can imagine the wonderful places I might be anchored right now. I am grateful for the wonderful memories of those trips.”

Joe said this with a peaceful smile on his face.

Joe was not upset with his current situation. He was happy to be there sharing memories with me. Those memories helped him be grateful where he was.

The next time I am in an undesirable situation I too am going to look backward at my life and find a reason to be grateful right where I am.

What can you look back to in life and be grateful for?