Summer shares lessons learned from her memoir on appreciating life.

When I was a teenager, I learned first-hand to appreciate having a healthy mind and body.

I was privileged to volunteer at my mother’s job. At the time she was working in a mental hospital. The hospital had a volunteer program for teenagers. Unknown to me at the time, that experience would show me the importance of appreciating the life I had. While volunteering, I learned some people are born with mental challenges. They are nice and good people but live with mental challenges beyond their control.

Not Everyone Has a Healthy Mind and Body

We all respond differently to working with people with mental challenges. Sadly, some shun them, stigmatize them or discriminate against them because they don’t understand. They don’t understand those good and kind people who were dealing with mental challenges wanted to be their best but couldn’t. Unless you’ve been around or worked with people with mental challenges, it’s easy to only think about how hard your life is. My response to volunteering at the mental hospital was an appreciation for my life. I understood that having a healthy mind and body was a privilege. I was grateful and blessed.

I had been blessed to live a full and free life. I could also think and live as I chose. Not everyone is as fortunate, and this became clearer to me, the longer I volunteered at the mental hospital. Even if you’ve never worked with people with mental challenges, show them you appreciate them by talking to them, and accepting them just as they are. You can show them respect by acknowledging their existence and letting them live with dignity as fellow human beings.

My question for you reading this, what do you have to be grateful for in your life today? Take time to appreciate your life. Be thankful for your healthy mind and body. Your life could have been quite different, given a different set of circumstances. All of which is outside your control. But you know what you can control? Your appreciation.