Jean was always complaining to her parents that she wished she lived in a nicer home so she would not have to share a room with her sister. She wished she had better clothes, a larger TV, a CD player, a newer computer, everything in Jean’s life was not good enough.

Jean’s parents were raising four children and they had to stretch the money to get the necessities yet they still managed to pay for the old children, including Jean, to take Martial Arts and participate in school activities.

Yet nothing satisfi­ed Jean. She always wanted more, more, more.

Jean’s parents and a neighbor car-pooled to take the children to Martial Arts classes. One night, on the neighbor’s turn to drive, as they approached the Jean’s home, they saw a lot of lights, smoke and ­fire trucks. As they got closer, Jean saw her parents and her youngest brother standing in the front yard watching their home burn down.

Jean and her family had to move in with her aunt and uncle and their two children. With the six in Jean’s family, it was very crowded in the three-bedroom home.

Everything Jean’s family owned had been lost in the fi­re.

That night Jean’s whole attitude changed. Jean missed all the things she thought she had hated. She saw how wonderful people could be when their family and friends helped them out with clothing, food and money. From that day, Jean appreciated everything she had. Whenever she heard of someone losing their home in ­fire, flood or storm, she felt great compassion and pity instead of ignoring it thinking it could never happen to her. Her attitude became one of being thankful for the smallest thing she could call her own.

Melvin Grant is a contributing writer for Martial Arts Monthly magazine.

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