I like writing my annual gratitude post, mostly because it's an easy one. I have a ton of things to be grateful for, and I like talking about those things.
Fairly frequently, often at night before I go to sleep, I make a mental account of the things for which I'm grateful. I never make it to the end, though, because there are so many things that I inevitably become distracted or fall asleep.
At the top of my list, always, are my friends and my family. Of all of the things in my life, my family is the one I feel most lucky about, since I had no hand in the selection process at all. I almost feel guilty, sometimes, knowing that I have such a great force in my life that I did nothing to earn. To make up for that I try to put a lot of effort into my family and make sure I strengthen those relationships.
And even with my friendships and my relationship, though I've obviously put in a lot of work to foster those connections, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for having met those people in the first place and having had the chance to become friends with them.
Sometimes my mind wanders and I think about how nearly I missed all of these things. My girlfriend and I happened to meet on tinder while she was in Vegas, a place I'm often away from, and now we're getting married in a month or so. Statistically speaking, that really shouldn't have happened. Maybe that's what fills me with the most gratitude -- realizing that I have so much, and that none of it was owed to me in any cosmic sense.
As the list of things for which I'm grateful increases throughout my life, I try to remind myself that it's mostly luck. That's not to say that I don't do a lot to make these things happen, only that I remind myself that my life could have very easily gone another way. I think that this stops the hedonistic treadmill, or at least slows it down, and makes me feel less entitled. I think it's dangerous to feel like anything in your life is yours because you're so special and truly deserve it.
While we all have different (and hopefully many) things to be thankful for, one that we share in common is that we live in this incredible world. Despite what the news and media will have you think, we live in an amazing world and are very lucky to be here. I feel an overwhelming amount of gratitude just to be on a planet that has nice sun and air that I can breathe. I guess it could be said that we wouldn't even be alive if that wasn't the case, but I'm glad nonetheless. Then on top of this world we have a high sense of mobility. Through the internet we can communicate with almost anyone (hi!) and we can learn just about anything. We can fly around to different places in the world, and, for the most part, we can be safe and get along with the people in those places.
There are, of course, bad things happening in the world. There always will be, I assume, so it's probably best to get used to that idea, even if you are working to change it. No matter how you do the math, though, I find it impossible to see how those relatively few negative things even begin to tarnish the incredible gift we have: to be alive on this planet as humans. If you meditate on how great this world is, and how lucky we are to be here, I think it is impossible to be unhappy. It's like when a child who has everything cries because he can't have one more candy.
Last, and more personally, thank you for the impact you've had on my life. Whether you gave birth to me (hi mom!), raised me (hi mom and dad!), grew up with me (hi siblings and cousins!), have been amazing to me (hi friends and family!), or just read my blog (hi you!): thank you.
Photo is a huge bear I saw in Yosemite yesterday! My family and I hiked around for 8 miles during our Thanksgiving trip. Yosemite is a great place to marvel at this earth and feel glad to be here.
Tynan, this is truly a great perspective that I think so many people miss (including myself) and may never even realize. Thank you for bringing light to what we actually have, instead of all the negatives we normally see most of the time. Thank YOU for blogging and helping me and so many people along the way. And Congrats!
I think that gratitude is an essential part of a good life. If you don't appreciate the people, places, and things that make up your life, you don't have much motivation do anything. I feel the weight of gratitude every day. Many times a day I think of how fortunate I am to be where I am, and how so much of that is due to other people. I can't write that post every day, but I think I can get away with it on Thanksgiving.
I'm most thankful for my family and friends. The two categories of people are intertwined because I feel like I'm best friends with many of my family members, and that many of my friends are so close they may as well be family. Genetics make clear lines, but in real life they're one big group of people I love.
I traveled with a lot of friends this year, and I'm particularly grateful for that. Sharing my favorite places around the world and discovering new ones with friends are among my favorite things in the world. I'm very fortunate to be able to do a lot of that.
I made only a few new friends this year, but I feel like I became closer with a lot of friends, often as a result of traveling together.
For years I've been pondering what could be the key to living a happier, more fulfilled life. Today, I think I have the answer.
Forget about money, fame, fancy cars, relationships, exercise, family, traveling, new experiences or even good health. Because none of that matters if you don't know how to appreciate it.