As we approach the holiday season, let us reflect on the blessings in our lives. We have been blessed with many "things." Some of us, perhaps, more so than others. "Things" being material possessions, financial success and other obvious attributes. But "things" can also be not so obvious, health, friendships, trust and respect from other people, and other intangible "things." However, WHAT we have been blessed with isn't really that important, but rather, HOW we appreciate these.

Let's say we have enough financial resources to live comfortably. How do we handle our blessings, beyond food, shelter and clothing? Do we keep everything we don't use to pay our bills or is there someplace we could help out to those who need a little (or a lot) of help? Not a share the wealth thought, but rather a genuine help another family thought. An unselfish thought. Or are we the ones who buy boats, snowmobiles, and other toys to "show off" our success -- our wealth? Do we act like we are better than other people because we are successful? Is this HOW we live? Is life all about WHAT we have, or about HOW we live?

Maybe, we think being loud, overly assertive and the center of everyone's attention, people will think we are special. That we deserve to be looked up to and even admired?

Actually, a lot of people don't admire loud, assertive people, but rather find them rather annoying and down right rude at best. In the belief that we are all equal, this doesn't fit in. And with identity theft a real problem, those who "brag" about their success are targets for the criminal part of our country.

Which is better, WHAT we have, or HOW we live? Which is smarter? To brag and show off, or to keep private that which is private? To do more and talk less? To show by our actions the positive aspects of our lives, without having to get our names and pictures in the paper or on the news?

How we handle adversity, disappointments, sadness, tragedy, or any negative is the true mark of who we are. Do we complain and whine and cry about these? Blame someone else or something else which is "beyond our control"? Or do we suck it up, put on our big-boy/big-girl pants, make the best of a bad situation and continue with our lives?

We all have bad days, sometimes weeks, even months. (Think of the people in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and California, HOW are they reacting?) Do we just send a check? Which is very easy and takes little or no effort. Or do we actually do something that will truly help? Are we out front where people and the media can see us? Or do we stay behind the scenes, getting our hands dirty? Which is more important to us? Which is more important to others? Being seen "helping," or actually "getting our hands dirty?"

How we react to this column, may indicate HOW we really live our lives. A little humility can go a long way. HOW we live and react to adversity or good fortune is immeasurably more important than WHAT and how much we have.

With the holiday season beginning, no matter which one(s) we choose to observe, all of us should take a moment, step back, to recognize WHAT our blessings are and determine WHAT is really important, and HOW we act or react to having these blessings.

It's not WHAT (or how much) we have -- but rather HOW we live that counts.


Herb Dettmer is a retired BG resident, U.S. Army veteran and writes this monthly column representing the viewpoint of "Joe Average" citizen. He is a freelance writer and author of "Others," a devotional book. Comments? Call or text "Joe" at 419-494-4641.

Opinions expressed in "Joe Average" are the writer's own.