Josh Schwarzbaum, MD, MBA

It was about a week since I had seen him smile last. I had forgotten how beautiful it was until I saw it again.

I write this sitting next to my son who has been hospitalized for almost two weeks. When we arrived to the emergency department he was in no shape to smile. For the past two weeks I’ve been concentrating on his medical care and ways to get him better. After a whole bunch of tests, procedures, and treatments I saw it for the first time.

A beautiful smile came across his face and it touched me deep inside. I always enjoyed it but now I had a new appreciation for it. I didn’t even recognize how much I missed it until I saw it again. It was almost as if it was the first time.

Just as the cliche goes you don’t know how much you value something until it’s missing. When I saw it, something lit up inside of me and told me that he is going to be okay, that we will be okay, that we will get through this whatever will happen in the future.

It also reminded me how there are some things in our life that are so basic and so apparent that we often take them for granted. What I also realized is that the more I can truly appreciate the small things, the things that are always there, the things that I am used to, the things that I may take for granted, I will be in a much healthier place. I would more often be sitting in a state of appreciation rather than a place of lacking. I would feel fulfilled, whole, and grateful for what I have. 

On the other hand, In a state of lacking I would experience a sense of desire, missing out, of needing something else. Interestingly though, they are both available to me at any given time. They are two sides of the same coin. In that moment I could focus on the beauty of what I was seeing or on how much I’ve been missing out. Each would feel very real but very different. 

There isn’t a right or wrong way to look at it. The challenge is to understand that how I look at something will determine how I feel. The feeling doesn’t come from the situation rather how I look at the situation. I don’t even need to change how I look at it, but if I understand my role in it, perhaps I can shake up the way I am looking at something. All it takes is a new thought to get a new perspective and a new feeling, and our thoughts are changing all the time anyway. 

Most importantly though, it is so easy to lose sight of the blessings that I have in front of me all the time. Why wait till they are gone to appreciate them, I can appreciate them today, right here right now. 

That is truly what I can always hope for. The ability to see the beauty in the here and the now no matter what is going on around me and to feel at peace even if the world around me is chaotic. 

It’s there that I can smile and truly appreciate the smiles of others because in that place I know everything will be okay.

Dr. Josh Schwarzbaum is a triple board certified physician in emergency medicine, addiction medicine, and emergency medical services. He consults for organizations and coaches individuals helping them find their natural resilience and peace of mind no matter what life brings their way.

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