Oh man, it's Thanksgiving next week. How on earth did that happen already. This year has shot by with a speed that's making my head spin but now that Thanksgiving's around the corner, I suppose that means things'll be winding down on 2010.
What a year it's been. Everybody was telling me at this time last year that 2010 was going to be my break out year and in more ways than I can count it has been. When I look back on the last 11 months and think about the people I've met and the places I've been and when I add that the last two years' worth of people and experiences and wow. My life's unrecognizable from how it looked three years ago. That's fantastic of course and I am deeply, deeply grateful for how things look today.
But I was deeply, deeply grateful three years ago when everything I'm up to these days wasn't even on my radar.
Around 15 years ago, someone very wise told me that I should "choose what's so." It made no sense to me at the time, I was somebody to whom life happened.
Back then I was unhappy and ungrateful. I was waiting for the next big thing that never seemed to arrive and I couldn't figure out why I was so miserable. I thought that the key to happiness was to do the stuff that would help me get the things that would bring me the happiness I was looking for. A lot of people lead their lives that way, I can see that now.
It took me years to see that the do+have=be happy equation was a recipe for continued misery but eventually I did see it. Once I started to really think about that wise man's suggestion that I choose what's so I figured out that I had it all backwards. The answer wasn't do+have=be happy and that the answer I was looking for wasn't even an equation. The key was to be happy first. Once I was a happy, grateful man I'd do the things that happy, grateful people do. Once I was doing the sorts of things that happy, well-adjusted people do I'd find myself surrounded with the trappings of a fulfilled life.
It worked and it works. When I start out happy everything falls into place from there and it's absolutely unrelated to the circumstances I find myself in. If my default mode is grateful then everything's a gift. Since life is a series of stories I tell myself why not tell an empowering story?
Thanksgiving always gets me present to this stuff and I think it's absolutely fantastic that in the US we have a specific day set aside to be grateful. Five other countries around the world also have a day set aside called Thanksgiving but a day to be grateful goes a lot deeper than that. Human cultures have had harvest festivals for as long as there have been human cultures and something tells me that I'm not the first person to trip over the idea that being grateful is a good thing.
Maybe someday I'll find an excuse to prattle on some more about how to be grateful to nothing in particular.
So happy Thanksgiving folks. The assignment was to write about what it is to me and everything I just wrote is it. What's Thanksgiving to you?