Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! What are you thankful for?

thankful

I’m thankful for waking up today. For the ability to breath and walk and laugh. I’m thankful for fresh air. That when I walk outside I feel safe. I’m thankful for other people. Old friends with whom I share a history and strangers whom I have yet to meet. I’m thankful that I can trust people, because I trust myself. I’m thankful for clean drinking water and that I never have to worry about when my next meal will be. I’m thankful that I have a warm place to sleep at night and a roof over my head.

It’s mind boggling, really, when I think of everything I have. It’s a wonder every day isn’t Thanksgiving. Indeed, it should be.

I Found the Key to Happiness!!

I’ve found the key to happiness!

It hit me like a bolt of lightening after observing other cultures while traveling through South East Asia.

Here it is:

I don’t want anything more than what I have right now. I don’t wish to be anywhere else than where I currently am.

Really internalize these thoughts. When you do, you cannot NOT be happy. When you truly believe that everything in life happens exactly as it’s supposed to (and it does), you release yourself from a desire to control and thus become free to experience joy in it’s purest form (presence and gratitude).

All that you have right now is all that you need. And you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Is America Really Successful?

I recently got home from an incredible adventure abroad and want to share some observations with you, which I think are important. I spent three weeks traveling through Thailand and Vietnam. While the trip was unforgettable, I’m glad to be home (and for all new reasons).

Things I’ll miss about Vietnam and Thailand: the friendly people, smiling faces, and simplicity.

Things I’ll appreciate more in America: clean drinking water, fresh air, and being able to sit outside in the sun for more than 2 minutes without being soaked in sweat.

Probably the biggest and most obvious culture shock upon returning to America, even just making my way through the airports, is how unhappy we, as a people, are in comparison to these other cultures. I’ve spent a lot of time pondering this. What’s causing it? Can we change?

First off, I think we have too many options. As Americans, we have all grown up in so much favor that it’s often hard to remember to be grateful. We have so many things to be grateful for but instead, we focus on what we don’t have yet. Things we want. Places we’d rather be. It’s tragic really, because in the midst of all of our wanting and wishing, we miss the joy that’s right in front of us.

Secondly, I think our definition of success is wrong. From birth we’re conditioned to work hard so we can live the life we want. We work hard, get to where we want to be, and our definition of success changes. Now we want even more. So we work hard to get there and still aren’t satisfied. And on and on it goes.

America is known as one of the most productive, successful societies in history. And we have a lot to show for our efforts. Productive? Absolutely. Successful? That’s debatable.

How can you be successful when your people are unhappy?

After observing the Thai and Vietnamese people, I personally think they’re a lot further along in the realm of successful living than we are. This is because, unlike the vast majority of Americans, they’re not stuck in a perpetual state of longing, they’re too busy living.

Unlike Americans, they’re not in a rush. They takes things as they come rather than bulldozing full speed ahead in an attempt to grasp things not yet meant to be. Comparatively speaking, their lives are simple. Men are seen squatting on every corner. Women are fanning themselves in the street. This simplicity lends itself to generosity. They notice the little things that we so often take for granted. They aren’t happy because everything is going their way. They’re happy because they trust that the way things are going is the best way, even when it’s not their own.

I don’t know the recipe for happiness nor do I have the formula for success pinned down. But if I had to guess… simplicity, faith, and a grateful heart are the best starting points.

The Only Thanksgiving Recipe You’ll Ever Need

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving to all of you!

I know many people are busy preparing recipes for their Thanksgiving feast but today, I want to offer you the opportunity to make a more meaningful Thanksgiving Recipe. This recipe is not about food that you eat, but rather it’s about food for your soul. Its ingredients consist not of turkey and gravy but of joy and meaning.

If you have five minutes, I encourage you to try this out. I recently completed my own Thanksgiving Recipe with my personal Ingredients for Joy and Meaning and I think that it has immense benefits. I’ll explain more later on…

Are you ready? Here we go…

Grab a pen and paper and make a list that answers this question: “When things are going really well in your life, what does it look like?”

Call the list “My Thanksgiving Recipe: Ingredients for Joy and Meaning.” This is your personal Thanksgiving Recipe and I promise you it will be more fulfilling than any other dish you feast upon this holiday season.

Here is a sample with some of the items from my personal Thanksgiving Recipe: Ingredients for Joy and Meaning (to give you some ideas):

– Eating Healthy
– Exercising regularly
– Plenty of sleep
– Lots of time spent in the company of friends
– Meaningful work that doesn’t consume me
– Time spent reading and writing
– Going to church regularly
– Plenty of time to spend with my dog
– Time for singing, dancing, and performing
– Creating and regularing sharing my work with other people
– Not being overly concerned or consumed by family affairs and/or drama
– Time spent outside/exploring
– Adventures and new experiences
– Someone to go on adventures and share these new experiences with who equally enjoys them
– Connecting deeply and spiritually with at least one other person
– Romance
– Progressing towards an established and realistic goal

Once you have finished your Thanksgiving Recipe: Ingredients for Joy and Meaning, now I want you to write a “Dream List” consisting of all of the things that you want to accomplish and/or acquire in your lifetime.

After you’ve completed both lists, compare the two.

I think you may be surprised to find, as I was, that nothing on my “Dream List” in any way enhances or changes my “Thanksgiving Recipe: Ingredients for Joy and Meaning” list.

In other words, if we can simply let go of our “Dream List” and begin to embrace our “Ingredients for Joy and Meaning” list, we’ll realize that we’re already living out our dreams, right now. What more could we possibly have to be thankful for?!

As you go about your Thanksgiving holiday, feel free to pass along this important recipe to your loved ones. And remember, gratitude and joy always go hand in hand.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hungering for Joy

The idea that we’re “not enough” permeates our lives whether we’re aware of it or not.

Think about our typical day. We wake up and think, “I didn’t get enough sleep.” or “I don’t have enough time.” We spend so much of our time complaining or worrying about what we don’t have enough of… We don’t have enough money. We don’t have enough work to do. We don’t have enough weekends. We’re not talented enough. We’re not driven enough. We’re not smart enough.

Before we even sit up in our beds each morning, we’re already inadequate in our own eyes. What begins as a simple expression of the hurried life, grows into the great justification for an unfulfilled life.

It makes complete sense why we have become a nation hungry for joy…because we’re starving from lack of gratitude.

I am enough.

Night

Night is the time when we’re alone, isolated in our bed, away from distractions and forced to confront our pain. I used to fear the night. I dreaded falling asleep, while needing rest more than ever before. In the quiet dark, the pain I spent all day running from, would sit right down on the edge of my own bed, like a familiar stranger, just staring at me. I hid from it any way I could; sleeping aids, prescription meds, exhaustion, alcohol… But no matter how great my hiding place, or how long I hid, the pain was relentless. It wouldn’t leave. Night after night, there it sat on my bed. Waiting for me. What does it want from me?!

Eventually, I learned to stare back. I began to even look forward to the night, when I could lie with that familiar stranger, face to face. Today, although the pain remains, its power is weakened. Finally, I am able to look it in the eyes and say, “I’m not scared of you anymore. I am grateful for you.”

Frozen in Self Doubt

Most of us are our own worst critics. When often, we need to be our own best cheerleader. Sometimes you just need to stop, look back at all you’ve been through, and thank yourself for all that you’ve done.

We’re constantly pushing ourselves forward, while forgetting to look back and reflect. Ironically, if you push yourself too hard for too long, you freeze.

The easiest way to unfreeze yourself is to stop focusing on all you have yet to accomplish and instead focus on all that you already have. Thank yourself. Be proud of yourself. Eventually, self belief will return and your motivation will soon follow.

Appreciate Your Exes

Don’t underestimate the value of your failed relationships. Sure, relationships can (and often do) fail. But certainly, there is no failure in relationship. Relationship itself is always a gain.

These people, even if they’re the wrong ones, are the ones teaching you the most about yourself, what you do and don’t want in a mate, and ultimately preparing you for the one to whom you are destined. For this, if for nothing else, you ought to be able to muster at least a smidgen of appreciation 😉

The Darkness of Black Friday

Does anybody else find it a bit disconcerting that Black Friday occurs the day after thanksgiving? It’s like a big middle finger from the advertising world to us. As if they can’t stand to see us spend a day in gratitude feeling content with everything we have, so they use the very next day to remind us of all the things we don’t. Typical consumer culture- refusing to let us feel satisfied despite “satisfaction” being among their favorite promises.

Even after all this time, the Sun never says to the Earth, “You owe me.” Look what happens with a love like that. It lights up the whole sky.

sun in sky