I love holiday season and Thanksgiving is my favorite. In my view, a good holiday has a purpose and gives us a chance to step outside our personal dramas remember the bigger context of our lives. We’re all blessed, and we need to remember that.
This year, I am grateful for the usual things. I have a beautiful and healthy family. Families can be frustrating, but my wife and kids are the most rewarding things in my life and I hope I never forget it. I am also thankful that business is good, and I live in a society that has offered me countless opportunities to succeed.
The power of Thanksgiving is that just counting our blessings makes us happier and more productive. Modern culture can (social media, in particular) makes us feel like we’re always falling behind. Other people have more exciting vacations, cooler stuff, more friends, and happier families.
We compare their curated highlight reels against our own struggles and we feel like something is wrong. The antidote is simple — gratitude. It energizes me to repay kindnesses, be good to other people, and make the most of my good fortune by working hard. It’s fuel that helps me be the man I want to be, so I can earn my blessings.
Every life is a mixed bag, so we have to choose what defines us. We can tally our misfortunes or our blessings — the world will always supply plenty of both. Gratitude is a choice to focus on our good fortune. This is also a good life strategy.
In the long run, negativity gets us nowhere. It makes us feel powerless to change our situation, so it breeds passivity. And other people are not drawn to or motivated by complainers. In contrast, the grateful person is driven to repay others, and this motivation is the start of leadership. Other people are inspired by purpose, energy, and kindness, so gratitude pulls families, communities, and networks together.
Expressions of heartfelt gratitude can quickly overcome the psychological barriers we put up against the world. They make us feel closer to people, and the feeling is contagious. I hope we can all bring the spirit of gratitude into the winter holidays. Even when things seem bleak, or we feel divided, there is always a case for optimism and shared values. The next generation has the chance to be healthier, wealthier, and more free to pursue their dreams than any people who ever lived. Life is good. Let’s remember never to take it for granted.