Wow, where does one start on this day of thanks? Over the past few years in studying happiness and where it comes from, gratitude is a constant that is agreed upon by everyone I’ve researched. From Shawn Achor and Dan Seligman to Mother Teresa, Viktor Frankl and so many others. On our travels last year this was my biggest investment, studying what brings happiness. The foundation of happiness, in my opinion, is getting our needs met. In Success Redefined I identified our basic needs as food, water, shelter, safety, love, air and health, with the hidden need; being part of something greater than ourself, our purpose. At lunch yesterday a good friend asked me if I was happy, and I candidly had to say no. I told her that I’m at peace and feel fulfilled, but happiness is not the biggest part of my life right now.
Based on my definition of happiness, which is getting our needs met, I have everything that I need except the health of my wife. The stress that we have been through over the past 7 months in dealing with finding out about Ilise’ cancer, until today, has been extremely high. We’ve probably been to more doctors appointments since this happened than all the doctors appointments we’ve had together combined. We brought two kids into this world and had all of their appointments, but this feels like more than that. Combine that with the process of starting a business from scratch and raising two teenagers and life can feel overwhelming. So, based on my own definition of happiness I can understand why I might not feel “happy” at this moment. This does not stop me from feeling grateful or fulfilled as a person.
Just this week I was having a conversation with our 16 year old daughter, and she was saying that she was stressed and not very happy. She is a straight A student, plays multiple sports, is on the speech and debate team and has a lot of good friends. She is constantly communicating with her friends and doing her school work. As a father I’m most interested in our kids being happy with their lives. In our recent conversation it dawned on me that she was not pursuing happiness, she’s been pursuing achievement. She asked me if it was OK to be a B in a class, and I said of course it is. I’m not sure where this attitude came from because neither Ilise nor I have ever expected straight A’s. We’re happy she’s so driven, if it makes her happy.
One thing that I know would make her happier is a sense of gratitude for everything that we have and taking time to gain perspective. That’s why we’ve traveled so much, to gain perspective on what really matters. On this Thanksgiving Day I would like to highlight some of the things that I’m thankful for:
- First, I’m thankful for the one’s closest to me, including my wife and two children. They have been my greatest teachers over the past two decades of my life.
- I would also like to thank my parents for just loving me and wanting me to be happy.
- I’d like to thank my siblings, Ken and Abby, as well as all my family members who continue to shower us with love and kindness.
- I would like to thank all of my long-time friends from my days in NY/NJ. I still keep in touch with about a dozen good friends that I know I would do anything for, and they would do the same for me.
- In the past 6 years, living in San Diego, I’ve met some of the most grounded and amazing human beings in my life. The list is very long and many of them I call my friends. I would like to thank all of you.
- Finally, I would like to thank my mens group that meets each month. I’m honored to be able to share my deepest feelings with other self-aware human beings.
My life is blessed and I feel a sense of fulfillment that comes from being grateful. I continue to meditate on a daily basis and make time to experience my inner truth. I believe we moved to San Diego, specifically North County, for a reason. At this point in my life I believe that my work with GameChangers could be that reason. I believe that my life’s experiences have brought me to this place and I’m pursuing the work I was meant to accomplish in my life. As for happiness, as Ilise’s health improves and we are through this time of challenge then I believe there will be more happiness as well.
To a life well lived!