Sunday, December 14, 2008

What is the Year of Gratitude?

Greetings and welcome to the Year of Gratitude. Thanks for coming by.

The stock market is in the tank. The 401k I thought I had allocated so brilliantly has been crushed. Yours too, I bet. Jobs across the nation are disappearing at a rate we haven't seen in decades. If you used to get a bonus, this year it's a bonus if the direct-deposit hasn't stopped. Violence is everywhere, from that once-quiet house two blocks away to the Khyber Pass and beyond.

The news seems relentlessly bleak, doesn't it? Daily we read of corrupt governors, discredited CEOs begging for bailouts, failed states in distant places. The broadcast-driven drumbeats of seizing this, shrinking that, terrified these, broken those... they go on. And on. And then it's Tuesday and we hear the drumbeats and read the stories all again. In the context that this world-wide broadcast "conversation" creates, there doesn't seem to be much place for gratitude.

I think that's exactly why it is time to focus on being grateful, and expressing my thanks for my Self and my life. So I've declared 2009 to be "The Year of Gratitude" and I will update this blog frequently with thanks.

To be grateful, in my view, is the foundation of positive action. Taking one positive action leads inexorably to taking others. Gratitude and grace are closely related words and closely related states of being. I know from my own experience that being grateful puts me at ease, calms and opens my mind, and makes me more pleasant to be around. Gratitude begets humility as well as confidence. The people I most admire have these traits in abundance and I'm grateful to have them as role models.

I admit to feeling a little silly and tentative about putting these thoughts on the public web. I'm not a pollyanna; I'm a fairly crusty middle-aged guy worried about hanging on to my job, supporting my family, planning for the future, taking care of my body, and more. I drink more alcohol than I should. I can't sleep worth a damn. My knees hurt, my back aches, I'm losing my hair. Gratitude is not going to restore my trading account balance after ill-considered or ill-timed stock trades. I'm clear about that.

Still, I am enormously grateful; compared to the six and a half billion people on the planet my problems are laughably small. I have plenty of comforts, many excellent relationships, and time to enjoy a few leisure pursuits. It would be lovely to think I know where this year of manifesting gratitude will take me but I don't. My hope is that I will move from being grateful for what I have to being grateful for who I am, and perhaps ultimately simply to being grateful for what is.

Thanks for joining me. Come by often and add to the conversation. Let's see what comes from the Year of Gratitude.