16 November 2010

A Blog Off post: Thanksgiving's coming, what's it to you?

The following is a Blog Off post. A Blog off is a biweekly event where bloggers of all stripes write about the same topic. You can learn more on the Let's Blog Off site. As the day progresses, a table will appear at the end of this post and it will list all of the participants as well as link to their posts.


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?













28 comments:

  1. Happy to share in your good year, Paul- It's a LOT to be thankful for. Through good and not-so-good, always have to treasure the fruits of positive thinking!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for indulging me in my navel gazing Nick!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for reminding us to stay in the moment Paul. I believe we all can become too caught up with do+have=be happy.

    Warm wishes and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks Steve and happy, happy Thanksgiving to you and everyone you hold dear too.

    ReplyDelete
  5. do+have=be happy is the biggest lie we tell ourselves. Not sure why it takes us living a lifetime to realize how futile and frustrating it is.

    Thank you for letting me share some of the moments in your past year. Always forward...

    ReplyDelete
  6. You know, the world economy is completely based on that lie.

    And thank you too, it's such a boon to meet kindred souls and you sir, fit that bill to a T.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Well, all right, hell of a journey here. I posted my own blog on this and read everyone else and commented on all but two--because this old man couldn't figure out how the hell to post a comment on those sites! Maybe that's what I'm most grateful for. I still have a couple of marbles rolling around upstairs! I do think you have the right on things, though, Paul. My wife and I have been fumbling through for 34 years now, and it now looks like we are in absolutely wonderful shape for the next part of our lives. Although six months ago, we wouldn't have thought so. But the one constant has always been just being grateful for what we have and doing the best with what we have to work with.

    ReplyDelete
  8. And really Joe, that's all anyone can ever do. Thanks for your comment!

    ReplyDelete
  9. someone asked on twitter today: what's your motto. maybe yours is: Be happy first. beautiful! its a choice, I think. movies about being in prison, lke Birdman of Alcatraz taught me we can be happy anywhere. I'm celebrating your amazing breakthroughs, you are amazing. happy Thanksgiving, Paul! and thanks for creating #letsblogoff. cindy @urbanverse

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks Cindy. I swear, my whole life hinges on that little truism about being happy inside first. You have a great Thanksgiving too!

    ReplyDelete
  11. paul -- not much to say but big impact . . . "do what's so" ... thank you for sharing that and happy t'day!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Amazing things happen when you choose the life you're leading.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Beautifully stated and perfectly true words to live by!

    And, the 'doctored up Rockwell image' is just so...perfect. (Where did you find that?)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks Bill. That's image I wanted to use on the Blog Off Site but no one else found it to be as funny as I do.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Be Here Now! Hilarious image, BTW. When I can get into that be happy first as you call it, it's amazing how much stuff takes care of itself!

    Cheers, Pauly. :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. It's practically miraculous how well things take care of themselves. Really.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I think I know what you are talking about - in some regards I think I am living what you are talking about. It will be interesting to look back at 2010 next year - pretty sure you and I will have some mutual stories to share and be grateful for by then.

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks Bob. By then we'll have had the chance to actually hang out in person. Enjoy your Thanksgiving with your wife and daughter. I sense some new traditions being born.

    ReplyDelete
  19. You should not only be happy, but proud. Not only of what you've accomplished but of who you are and what you do.
    I for one would not be in the starting position I am today to head into 2011 had it not be for your generosity, courtesy and patience.
    So all that comes your way now, and come it will, is headed for its rightful owner.
    You're right about being happy. When you have a vision and steer a course, people, luck and money tend to fall in line behind that.

    Viel Spass in Deutschland and "no idea what have fun is in spanish" but have it in spain as well . V

    ReplyDelete
  20. It's "Tenga buen tiempo" in case you need to know that later. Thanks so much for your kind words Veronika, it's been a hell of a year hasn't it? Has it really been more than six months since I sat down with you, drank jasmine tea and talked about industry contacts? Amazing how time flies.

    It's been a real thrill to watch Modenus take shape and just you wait for 2011, it's going to be amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  21. My two cents on "do+have=be happy":
    On campus, I run into people (in classes, in group settings, etc) all the time who are majoring in "Business." When I ask them, "Why business? What do you want to do with that?" They sort of give me a blank stare. They're in it solely for the money, and that breaks my heart. I stare back at them and wonder how many unhappy years of their life they will waste behind a desk that they loathe. And it all could've been different - they could have gone to school for a year or two, taken a variety of courses to find out what they were interested in (an option that people who automatically select "Business" cannot do because it's such a course-intensive major) and then pursue their TRUE passion. They could have been happy. Instead, they chose the get-rich-quick path and sentenced themselves to quarterly reports and interminable staff meetings. Not to mention bad coffee.

    Being an English major is fantastic, by the way. Everyone in your upper level classes WANTS to be there. Being a Creative Writing minor is even better. Everyone in those classes LOOKS FORWARD TO BEING BROKE FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES if it means they get to dedicate their time to writing.

    Okay, so maybe that was more like a dime or even a 50-cent piece's worth, but I guess what I'm trying to say is: I'm glad I chose a major based on what makes me happy. It means I've opened doors to the career options that will best encourage a cheerful attitude in my later years. I honestly believe I will never regret this choice, and, for that, I am prematurely grateful.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hey, I was an English major; more specifically an English Writing major at one of the only undergraduate writing major programs in the country and I never regretted it for a second. I too thought I'd live a life of penury but that's not how it ended up.

    You know, the biggest shock that comes to everybody, regardless of what they study in college is that what you study in college doesn't dictate what you do for the rest of your life.

    The key is to take advantage of those years to learn how to think and that's true regardless of the discipline. Most people find their passions one way or another.

    There's absolutely nothing wrong with making money and believe me, poverty is not all it's cracked up to be. It's no more inherently virtuous than than having money is. But amazing things happen when you follow your passions. It make take a while but money does come eventually. Passion attracts other passionate people, whether they're launching an internet start up or starting a theater company.

    You're off to a great start and you're fortunate to have figured this stuff out when you have. Enjoy being in school, it's the last time you'll be able to learn stuff for the sheer joy of learning it so wallow in it!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I must admit, I accidentally stumbled upon this "blogoff" group while trying to get my proverbial feet wet in the blogoshpere. I write a blog for my business as well as a personal one, and I am overwhelmed at the support that (to my knowledge) strangers give each other via blogs every day. It really is an amazing benefit of the internet age.

    Reading through your blogs, I can't help but think of a great book I've had the pleasure to read, and when life seems eager to drag me down, I always turn back to it. If you have 45 minutes, I recommend "The Present" by Spencer Johnson, author of "Who Moved My Cheese?".

    Thanks for allowing me to take part.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Jamey" Welcome to the blogosphere. It is an amazingly helpful community, isn't it? I'm always amazed by the level of decency I find among bloggers. Would that the whole world operated under a similar code.

    I will keep my eyes peeled for The Present. Thanks for the recommendation.

    ReplyDelete
  25. This is my favorite thing about social media and "new marketing" - it genuinely rewards the genuine hearted. However, you first had to have the vision to recognize opportunity, the courage to take the risks you've undoubtedly taken and the discipline to do what others didn't want to do. You deserve all the good things being delivered to you... Congratulations Paul, and thank you for all you do.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thanks Denese, I appreciate your kind words. Add meeting you to one of the completely unexpected. great things that social media's brought into my life. Not only does this new medium reward the genuine hearted, it connects the genuine hearted to other people who are similarly, genuine hearted. That's you.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm just now getting around to reading everyone's posts: have saved the savory experience for the last act of my writing day before I collapse under the bleary-eyed fog! The more I learn about you, Paul, the more I appreciate who you are and what you are doing. I also feel we have a bit of a parallel path, which gives me hope that there is actually a tribe of us "out there"; maybe we should start our own harvest festival. We could reap all the gratitude and combine it into one huge swell of collective appreciation for a life lived authentically! Here's my favorite line: "Since life is a series of stories I tell myself why not tell an empowering story?" Love it so much!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thanks Saxon, coming from someone I respect as much as I do you that means more than you know. Far more than you know.

    ReplyDelete

Talk to me!

Related Posts with Thumbnails