While serving on duty in Northern Iraq, Air Force Captain Justin Coughlin asked an Iraqi merchant how he was doing following the Saddam Hussein government. The merchant replied: “Everything is doing well and business is just well, too! Sure, I have a missing finger, had to rebuild my house now for the fourth time; and had one of my sons killed by Saddam. But I am not blaming God for what I have gone through. In spite of my losses, God has given me much—my life, good health and much, much more! God has even given me the opportunity to know freedom through the efforts of the American government and the kindness of those sent to free my country.”
The upbeat response of the Iraqi merchant caused Captain Coughlin to raise a question: “What comes first in the life of people who lead contented, happy lives?” He thought happy people are happy first then developed a sense of gratefulness as a result of being happy. After meeting the Iraqi merchant, Captain Coughlin came to believe that people are happy because they are grateful for what God has given that person on any given day, at any given moment.
The Iraqi merchant helped Captain Coughlin developed a better understanding of gratitude and happiness. Within a matter of days, the man Captain Coughlin drew up a list of some of the blessings he had received. He started with what he considered as the ten most obvious ones:
2. a job
8. good health
9. good food
10. a place to live
To further help him recognize God’s blessings, Captain Coughlin developed a list of blessings beginning with the first letter of his name—C:
Within a month while in Iraq, Captain Coughlin developed a list of more than
eight dozen blessings he had received from God just using the letters of his family name. Regardless of where he was or what he was doing, he realized he had received abundant blessings from God—and learned the true meaning of happiness.