As I’ve said many times before, I believe that gratitude is a foundation for both happiness and a mindful life. Every day, I write down at least three things I’m grateful for, a practice that is proven to increase well-being. Beyond that, I also try to make time every couple of months to really think through my life and all I have to be thankful for.
This year, I used a typical day as a way to focus my gratitudes.
Family. When I wake up, I usually have a cat at my feet, my wife by my side, and often my son crawling in to snuggle. As of a few days ago, we now have a dog as well—Loki—who no doubt will be joining the pileup. However you define it, family is the core of a loving support network. Take some time to let your family members know just how much you love and appreciate them.
Home. Getting up and ready for work, I’m comfortable in a heated home, with a warm shower and a kitchen full of good food. Millions of people around the world lack what we in the U.S. consider basics, and I am grateful to be well housed and well fed (too much so, really).
Work. Once I get to the office, I have interesting work (markets, the best game in the world!), terrific colleagues and friends, and a company—Commonwealth—that's committed both to excellence in what we do and to doing the right thing. I am grateful for the work I do, and for where and with whom I do it.
The extras. Headed home, I drive my own car, with software (Waze) to avoid traffic and satellite radio to avoid commercials. Comparing my drive today to what it was only a handful of years ago, it’s a lot more enjoyable. Although I haven’t yet found a way to be grateful for my commute, I am grateful for these improvements.
Clearly, on a day-to-day basis, I have a lot to be thankful for, and most people reading this probably do as well. Is my life perfect? Nope. There are aspects that could be better, but so what? Anyone can come up with a list of things they don’t have or reasons to be unhappy. By focusing on the bad, though, you turn your mind downward. How can you be happy when you spend your time thinking about what’s wrong?
If, on the other hand, you spend some time every morning thinking about the many things that are right (and writing them down), you’ll not only help yourself but everyone around you. The point is simply to look at what you have and to appreciate it. As the saying goes, it isn’t about having what you want, it’s wanting what you have. Expressing gratitude is the purest way to do just that.
The power of thank you
This year, in that vein, I closed our family Thanksgiving prayer with this thought: “I have read that if the only prayer that was ever offered was simply this—thank you—that it would be enough.” After thinking it over, I truly believe that. Thank you is the essence of appreciation, of gratitude, and of the best relationship between ourselves and the world around us.
I am grateful for the chance to write this blog, and I am even more grateful for those who follow it. Thank you for reading. Thank you for your attention and time. I wish you a 2017 full of reasons for gratitude and happiness.
This will be my last post of 2016. Have a happy New Year!