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  • bsillem


At the heart of having a great attitude is gratitude. It’s one of those things of which you can never have too much. No one ever says, “Please don’t invite Johnny over for dinner anymore, he was too thankful.” Thanks is something we can never hear enough. Gratitude is much more than being polite. Even though the world seems to be falling apart at the seams these days, we each have plenty for which to be thankful. We live in remarkable times with amazing comforts available to us.

George Dawson led quite a life. He lived 103 years. Born a slave’s grandson, his life saw improvements relative to his near relatives, but still bore the struggle of race. He wasn’t allowed to go to school and get an education. He endured hard, physical work beginning at a young age. Only at the spritely age of 98 did he learn to read. He then collaborated with Richard Glaubman to produce a memoir bearing the title of George’s core operating belief. Life is so good. The book walks us with George through key moments in history over the last 100 years. We see that nothing about his life was easy, but he seized steadfastly to the idea that life is so good and that held him solidly throughout the journey. George comes across as someone who has lived a rich and fulfilling life where gratitude fueled his happiness and cultivated a character content with circumstances. He didn’t rail against the system or complain about how others were trying to keep him down. He saw the good in the world and in others and the world seemed to move to make room for him. Things were often far from perfect, but the belief that life is so good led to a disposition that allowed Dawson to develop.

Working to consciously craft gratitude helps us accept and make the most of where we are (Ch 8). If we can work to adopt George’s approach of life is so good, our own lives will be much more pleasant. Building a bias to gratitude puts us in a position to apply ourselves productively wherever we find ourselves. It’s much more helpful than complaining.

Gratitude can help us see that we can add value to others. It feels good to be thanked. It feels good to be helpful to others. Gratitude is an attitude that helps us accept the value of giving to get (Ch 9).

It also helps us to get outside of our own heads and realize the world doesn’t revolve around us (Ch 10). I succumbed to a 24 hour bug recently. I was largely useless and spent the day lying lethargically on the sofa. Nonetheless, feeling crummy helps us reprioritize things and regain perspective. The things we thought were important and pressing fall to the side. We become grateful to have family near by who can help us out. Basic kindness and empathy shown from our spouse and children is appreciated and helps us find comfort in our humbled state. Getting beaten down by a bug helps us accept that we can’t do everything all of the time and we do deeply depend on others.

We can work to foster our gratitude by committing to write a single sentence or paragraph each day (or week) using the practice detailed in Chapters 3 and 5 to create Streaks by Writing it Down. Honing a habit of thanks by documenting things for which we are grateful helps us feel better in the moment as well as providing an objective record to draw on in the future. Scrolling through notebooks from the past containing things for which you were thankful provide pleasant feelings and is guaranteed to pick up your mood.

If we grasp the value of gratitude, we’re accepting that life is a get to and less a have to. We’re reinforcing many of the chapters within Earn Everything. The more of our lives that we can view from the perspective that are “get to”, the happier we will feel. The soul of gratitude is internalizing that much about our lives is a gift. It’s a miracle that we’re here at all. To be part of the living is exciting. The creature comforts, availability of knowledge, equality of opportunity, and much more are greater than they have ever been. Sure, things are far from perfect. The world has plenty of problems (and always will). Good. We get to lean in and be part of the solution should we choose. We get to choose the things we care about, we get to choose the friends we have and the people with whom we want to do things. We get to choose our jobs. We get to choose what we want to learn. We get to choose where we live. Realizing how lucky we are to make the choices we have available to make is fortified by being grateful.

If these aren’t enough reasons, expressing gratitude also helps us enjoy our own company as well as endearing us to others. Finally, in what often seems like a world gone mad, a posture of thanks puts one in exclusive company. We’re demonstrating, once again, that We are Willing to Do What Others Won’t (W2D WOW) by being grateful.

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