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What we really need in life

Last week, a cousin living in Hungary sent me a YouTube link to a video clip about Nick Vujicic, a man without limbs.

The video was only a few minutes long, but it was very powerful. I felt so inspired and moved that I had to forward it to a few friends.

I even went to Oprah's website to submit a suggestion for her "Oprah Winfrey Show." I sent it to one of her producers whom I recently read about in the UW-Madison Alumni magazine "On Wisconsin."

Even though I don't watch Oprah or other TV programs, I know Oprah has perhaps the most influential TV talk show in the world. I thought if she hasn't already interviewed Nick Vujicic, I hope she will do so some day.

So who is Nick Vujicic and why is he so interesting and inspiring?

Nick is a 25-year-old man from Australia. He was born without arms and legs and no medical reason could be given for this condition.

Despite countless challenges and obstacles, he achieved what others might call impossible.

Now he travels all over the globe and shares his testimony with millions of people. He brings God's love and hope to people in all situations and circumstances. He challenges people to overcome struggles and obstacles in life.

What can we all learn from Nick?

Most of us have healthy bodies. We have arms and legs, fingers and toes. We can walk, run, lift and write. There are so much we can do that Nick cannot do physically. Yet, he lives a life without limitation, while many of us live our life with limitation, if not physically, then mentally.

We don't need a lot in life. We don't have to be perfectly made or perfectly looking. Even with severe physical disability, we can still live a good life and live life to the fullest. All we really need is to have a heart of contentment and gratitude, to know that we are wonderfully made and to find the purpose God has for us.

Watching Nick's video clip reinforced this lesson.

Every year during the holiday season, people spend a lot of time and money shopping and buying stuff. I am always amazed and wonder how much do we need.

How many toys do our children need? How many more video games are necessary? How many gadgets, sweaters, dresses, bags, shoes, etc. do we need?

In this country, most people already have more than needed. Our houses, our garages, our closets, our drawers, our shelves are filled with stuff, yet we still keep buying. We keep buying stuff we think we need, but in reality, we don't need more.

We have the false sense that we need more to look good, feel good and be happy; we need to have better things in order to have self-esteem; and our kids need more toys and games to be smart and happy.

When I grew up, I didn't have toys, let alone any educational toys or electronic games. I don't think my brain development was affected in any negative way as a result.

I didn't have many clothes, let alone nice clothes. My mother had to make everything for me, from inside to outside, from top to bottom. I don't think I suffered any low self-esteem as a result. In a nutshell, I turned out O.K. without many nice things in life.

What I think I had was that I learned to value what I had. I developed a heart of contentment and gratitude. I am content with what I have, even though what I have is not the best or the most expensive.

I try to pass on this important life lesson to my kids.

I don't overindulge them. I don't buy them a lot of stuff. I want them to develop a heart of contentment and gratitude. I want them to value what they have, not envy what they don't have.

Nothing thrills me more than hearing my kids say: "Mom, thanks for bringing us to ..." or "Mom, thanks for buying us ..."

When my kids were younger, they had brought home Santa's wish list during the holiday season that they made at school. I wasn't excited about getting those lists. I think instead of making Santa's wish list of what they want, they should make a "Count my blessings" list. Instead of asking for more toys, they should share what they are thankful for.

As we come to the end of 2008 and look forward to the New Year 2009, let us all be thankful for what we have and what we are going to have.

Having a content heart is one of the greatest blessings in life. And that is what we really need.

For more information about Nick Vujicic, visit his website or watch some video clips on YouTube. May you be inspired and touched by his story and testimony.

I wish every one of you a happy, healthy and blessed New Year!

Qin Tang can be reached at