I was struck by what a Vietnam War veteran said he has sometimes done when life got tough for him, as reported by Margaret Martine in her “Ferguson News” column in last week’s issue of this newspaper.

According to the article, Terry Barlowe of Lenoir said that when things in life get difficult, looking at his Army uniform in the closet and reminding himself that whatever challenge he is facing isn’t as bad as what he experienced in Vietnam helped him cope.

Not that I’ve ever endured anything like the war experiences Mr. Barlowe referenced, but I’ve done the same thing and it helped.

We’ve all had experiences that should help give us perspective when difficulties arise. For me, the challenge too often is simply remembering to focus on this instead of being consumed by whatever is bothering me.

Ironically, the weekly column by Carey Kinsolving in that same issue of the newspaper asks the question, “How can you give thanks in everything?”

I’ll quote how the column partly answers that question:

“Stick with the three P’s of providence, prayer and praise, and you’ll never allow bitterness to take root in your heart. An attitude of gratitude sees even adverse circumstances as part of God’s greater plan for character development.

“If you’ve trusted the Lord Jesus as your savior, be grateful that the God who created this universe has accepted you into his glorious kingdom. Hold up the shield of faith to quench the fiery darts of ingratitude, doubt and anger that can ruin the peace to which God has called you.”

The column urges readers to have an attitude of gratitude.

I think an attitude of gratitude means trying to maintain a mindset of looking at the world and your circumstances with a feeling of appreciation, regardless of your current situation.

Here’s a related story.

A blind boy was sitting on the steps of a building with a hat at his feet as people walked by. He was holding up a sign that stated, “I’m blind, please help.” Only a few coins were in the hat.

A man walking by dropped a few coins into the hat, picked up the boy’s sign, wrote some words on the other side and put the sign back in the boy’s hands with the new words facing people on the sidewalk.

The hat soon began to fill up with coins dropped by people passing by.

When the man who had written on the sign returned to the boy that afternoon, the boy recognized his footsteps and asked, “What did you write when you changed my sign?

The man replied, “I only wrote what you said but in a different way. I wrote, ‘Today is a beautiful day, but I cannot see it.’ ”

The original sign simply said the boy was blind, but the sign written by the man reminded everyone walking by how grateful they should be to have vision.

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