This is a story about beets, wine, youth, a new perspective, and being grateful.

I was reminded recently that Americans have a very limited view of the world. I’m not talking politics or global affairs. I’m talking living life, what we eat, and how we see things.

I attended a wine tasting that featured Spanish wines. Our host was a young man from the Basque region of Spain. It was interesting to see his different perspective on life compared to a roomful of Americans.

Here’s what happened. The first wine was paired with an appetizer of red beets with clams and scallops. A woman at my table mentioned not wanting to eat beets as a kid. But her mother insisted, so she and her sister devised a way to cut them up so tiny that they wouldn’t have to chew them. They could swallow them without tasting them. The young Spaniard said that to his family beets were like honey. They were sweet and delicious, like a treat. When he was a kid, if they were good, they got to eat beets.

When he introduced himself to the wine-tasting group, the man asked us not to be alarmed that he was so young. Although he was only age 28, he has worked at the vineyard since he was 15, so he knew what he was talking about. I remember many years ago when I auditioned for acting school, I was 25 years old at the time. I asked the interviewer if I was too old to go to the school. He smiled at me knowingly and said no, I was not too old. Again, the difference in perspective struck me. At 25 in America, I though I was too old. And at 28, he thought he was too young.

The difference is in the way American culture trains us to think. We worship youth, and we eat a lot of junk food. We take fresh vegetables and our abundance of food for granted. He was thrilled to have beets. To him they were a treat. To us we were being forced to eat vegetables.

At 25 I thought I was too old to start a new career. While at 28, he is a youngster in his profession.

In the United States we have lives of abundance. Even when we are unemployed, or sick, or down on our luck, we still have a roof over our heads and food on the table. You have a table. And we take that for granted. We complain about eating vegetables, yet there are people on this planet who don’t have enough food to eat, or even a kitchen table to eat it on.

I remember a joke told by Roseanne Barr that half the world is starving and the other half is trying to lose weight. It’s not really funny, is it? Because it’s true.

Whenever you feel yourself starting to complain about what’s for dinner, remember the people who have nothing. Whenever you feel you don’t have enough, use this calculator to see how better off you are than the rest of the world:

World Inequality Database

You have more than 95% of the planet simply by being born in the United States. Take some time to be grateful. Try to have a new perspective on your abundance. No complaints.