Like many of you, my mom used to tell me to be grateful for the food I had because other kids around the world were starving.  I must admit, all that ever did was scare me into worrying that I’d starve one day.  Gratitude is a unique experience.  It’s kind of like meditating – many people swear by it’s practice, and others are scared to death of it.

About ten years ago, I heard a speech given by my friend Jeff Rufenacht that helped me add gratitude to my process.  As you’ve probably noted, there are many sages out there preaching an attitude of gratitude, but they make it too complicated.  Writing down things, prioritizing them, etc. – it sounds like a Vector Firm sales training course.  Jeff’s discovery made it so simple – as he lies in bed each night, he just reflects on the things that happened that day and gives thanks.  It really is that easy.  If you’re thankful for something as grand as your healthy family, or as minute as a free Krispy Kreme donut you received that morning, give thanks.  There’s no prioritizing or writing or thinking … just reflect, and say thank you.

So, I thought I’d randomly write things below for which I’m thankful … and post it on this day of giving thanks in the United States.  I did spell check, but these are the first things that popped into my head.  I’m sure I left out things, but this is pretty good…

  • Our daughter is healthy and happy.
  • I was adopted out of foster care when I was a baby.
  • I grew up in Merritt Island, FL during the 1970s and ‘80s.
  • I met my wife when I did.
  • My mom forced me to play baseball when I was seven, and finally let me play football when I was thirteen.
  • I’m healthy.
  • I survived a mid-stage melanoma scare 15 years ago.
  • I knew many of my best friends 40 years ago.
  • I knew most of the rest of them 25 years ago.
  • The lessons I learned as a child and teenager through sports.
  • I had the perfect athletic coaches at the perfect times of my life.
  • I’m a graduate of the University of Florida.
  • I joined a fraternity (Pi Kappa Alpha) at UF, and learned to transfer the skills I learned on the athletic field to the real world.
  • I started and grew Vector Firm.
  • Laughter – mostly with my wife.  I laugh all the time.
  • My ability to speak in public, and the training I received through mentors and Winter Park Toastmasters.
  • Our house.  It’s perfectly imperfect for us.
  • The village that helps us raise our daughter.
  • Travel.  I never flew on a plane until I was nineteen, and never left the US until I was twenty-nine.  Today, I’ve been all over the US, Canada, and Europe; and some of South America, Asia and Africa.
  • Jeff’s speech – I began to put it into practice right away, and it’s made a real impact on my life.

I promised myself I’d stop at twenty bullet-points, but could go on for the rest of the morning.

Finally, the thing that I’m most grateful for is “upstairs”.  I perform my gratitude practice in our sun room every morning at about 5:45. The topic for which I always give thanks is “upstairs”.  You see, while I’m in the sun room, my wife and daughter are sleeping “upstairs”.  I just wrote and deleted that they’re “my life”.  While they are, I have other things in my life, so that’s not why I give thanks for them.  I give thanks for my wife and daughter because they’ve lifted my life to a level of joy that I never realized before.  I thank God for them, and for my awareness of them, every single morning … and it makes me happy.  It’s really as simple as that.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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