How to Be Happy

November 28, 2010

“[If] you cannot do what you want, want what you can do” Leonardo da Vinci

“A noble person is mindful and thankful for the favors he receives from others.” — the Buddha

Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year.  I love everything about it: I love seeing my family and friends all gathered in one place, I love eating delicious food, and I love getting some time off to relax.  The thing I love most, though, is the reminder to be thankful.

These days, it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in planning for what’s next and thinking about how to get what we want.  In a lot of ways, that’s at the foundation of a self-made life: you decide what you want and then you figure out how to make it happen.  But lately, I’ve been trying to approach it from the opposite direction: to be appreciative of where I am now and what I already have.  If we can simply learn to love our current life, we will always be happy and always have enough.

My family has a Thanksgiving tradition where we go around the room and everyone says what they are thankful for.  This year, after getting to spend a whole week doing nothing but visit with people I love, I realized that what I am most thankful for is simply having a day that reminds me how good I really have things.  It is a tremendous blessing to be afforded not only supportive friends and family and comfortable means, but time off specifically dedicated to appreciating them.

Here is my Thanksgiving challenge to all of you: try taking some time each day (I set aside a few minutes before bedtime) to think about what happened that day that you are grateful for.  It can be as simple as the fact that you woke up with a home and food to eat.  Find the blessings in life as it is, and I guarantee that everything will be much richer.

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Feedback: What are you thankful for?

6 Responses to “How to Be Happy”

  1. Danielle Says:

    Your blog is always thought-provoking and worthwhile for me, friend. I am frustrated that I have too little time to respond and dialogue about much of you post here.

    But today, this. I wholeheartedly agree with you about Thanksgiving offering us who are constantly striving a moment to pause and remember. May we do this much, much more often as it really does propel and inspire us to continued forward motion.

    And with that, sweet friend, I am thankful for you.

  2. CupK8 Says:

    Lately, I have been quite struck with wonder at life, so I end up being thankful for so many things. This morning, for example, I am thankful to be warm and cozy enough not to want to get up. And thankful for the luxury that I have the choice not to. I am thankful for soft wool. I am thankful for music. I am thankful for pancakes.

    I am also thankful to have friends who are mindful of such things.


  3. @Danielle: Thanks so much for the kind words. I’m glad to have you as a part of this project. I’ve got some things coming up that I think you’ll enjoy particularly; I look forward to your continued feedback.

    @CupK8: Welcome to the community here; glad you’re enjoying break.

    I am thankful that I have such thoughtful and articulate readership. I am excited about how well this blog has been received so far, and even more excited about the places I think it will go. I am glad to have such supportive friends on the ground floor of a project that is so near and dear to me.

  4. ccf Says:

    That is a lovely posting. As poet Marge Piercy says, “Attention is love” and attention usually yields gratitude too. I like the “want what you have” quotation, but I also really like your longer meditation on this foundational idea.


  5. You’re not the first one to say this. I follow a lot of blogs, and, while this one is very dear to me, I will have to recommend that you check out thxthxthx.com.
    The writer was taught at a young age to write thank you notes. So she does, every day, on a Post-It, and blogs it. She picks out something small every day, and thanks it very specifically.

    Here’s one of my favorites:
    http://thxthxthx.com/?p=202

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