Happy Sunday to all of you out there.  Thanks for visiting us at the Guide once again.  It’s been my pleasure over the last several months to be able to get to know many of you, and interact with all of you.  It has been an interesting week or two for me.  Lots of things happening.  Lots of movement on other things.  And so, with slow but steady growth on the blog, I am looking forward to how this blog will look sometime next year.  I have some exciting things coming up, hopefully.  And some exciting collaborations with some of my other favorite bloggers out there.  All of this made me very thankful for my experiences so far.

In between all of these thoughts in the last week, I have been looking at the world and all of the people in it.  Moments of happiness appear to be non-existent.  And yet, as one of my favorite Christmas movies (Love Actually) says: “Love is all around us.”  This past week I have read many blogs about forgiveness, and love, as well as ones trying to bring inner peace and tranquility.  All of them were reaching out to try to bring some happiness in this world.  Which got me to thinking about what actually makes for happiness.

This left me in a quandary.  I started reading and rereading many of those pieces and started to think about what all of them had in common.  The one thing that I believe everyone had in common was the idea of gratefulness.  In order to be happy, we had to take stock and be happy with the things that we had.  This bled into a conversation with co-workers who agreed that people with little are often happier than people with a lot because they have learned to be grateful for the little they had, and not upset about the things which they did not. (How Dr. Seussish of me!?!?)

Which of course led me to take stock of the things that I should be grateful for.  What things make me happy?  What drives me?  And what makes for my source of inner peace?  I realized that I needed to take stock of the things that I was thankful for.  Which of course led me to write this blog post.  Now, I know that it says 70 days of Thankfulness.  Which if you count from now to Thanksgiving in the States would make 68 days.  But whoever heard of 68 days of anything?!?!?  That’s just crazy talk!  I am all for round numbers so 70 days it became.  I’ll just have to be thankful for things the past two days.

This will be a weekly series taking us up to Thanksgiving, which is a day, whether you are religious or not, you should take stock of your world and the things that you are Thankful for.  I guarantee that doing that will put a smile on your face, even if only for one day of the year and the rest people can think of you as a cross between Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch.  So for the first week, here are 7+2 Things that I am thankful for.  I had to account for the two missing days, of course.

70 Days of Thankfulness – Week One

    1. I am thankful for my daughter.

While the easiest on my list to name, I couldn’t be properly thankful for anything on any list without including this in it.  My daughter is my why.  Why do I do things?  Why did I start this blog?  And why do I get up in the morning and go to work, even when I am not feeling well?  I am blessed that she is in my life.

   2. I am thankful for my family.

Also an easy one.  My parents have done so much for me that I cannot even express.  They have supported me when I haven’t felt like I was worth supporting.  And they have encouraged me when I needed encouragement.  They may not be the perfect parents.  But who has the perfect parents, really?  And my brother has stepped in and given of himself in ways that I never thought possible when we were constantly arguing and fighting as children.  Even in his own struggles, he gave to me.  For that, I am truly grateful.

   3. I am thankful for the bare necessities.

While I might not have Baloo’s gift for song, I am very grateful for my daily sustenance.  This means food, shelter, air to breathe, and water to drink.  I think it’s so easy to forget this one.  And while Baloo may be a bit too far on the lazy end of the spectrum to provide for himself, he tells us something true.  Those bare necessities make everything else in life possible.  Without them, they are hard to establish relationships, have families, think about enjoyment or consider any other thing in life.

   4. I am thankful for the seasons.

Living in California, one might consider this attitude to be silly.  We don’t have seasons here.  We have summer and rain, and very little of the latter.  While this may be true, we do go through cycles of cooler weather, wanting to stay home and cuddle up by a fireplace, time to eat different meals and celebrate holidays, etc.  We go through seasons of the year like we go through seasons of life.  Change comes to us all.  And in that, we can be grateful for good changes that bring positive things, and hard changes that force us to grow as people.  Seasons are necessary.

   5. I am thankful for my friendships.

Whether you came into my life for a time, or you have lasted throughout the years, I am grateful for the friendships that I had in my life.  These people helped me to grow, challenged me to think, and had my back when things were going badly.  (I cannot say how happy I am for the friends who stood by me through the divorce and helped talk me down from things that I might have regretted later.)  Without my friendships, I would not be the person that I am today.  I want to thank each and every one of you, whether new friends or old for the impact that you have made on my life.

   6. I am thankful for dreams.

Obviously unrealistic dreams can be destructive.  But without dreams, where would any of us be?  No one would have taken up the challenge of flight.  We would not be able to travel to faraway lands in search of adventure.  People in bondage would have suffered tremendously thinking they had no way out of their servitude.  I would never have taken up writing because someone would have convinced me how unrealistic it would be to be successful at it.  Dreams get us through tough times, and they inspire us to bigger and better things.  Without them, we wither and die.

   7. I am thankful for freedom.

While I do understand that people can abuse freedom, I think the desire for freedom is at the core of every human being.  Without it, we could not choose what we did, who we loved, or where we went in life.  I suppose I could have found happiness in the toil like Sisyphus.  But I cannot imagine my life without it.  Who wants to be told what to think, how to act, what to dream, or where to belong?  Find me that person and I will show you supreme sadness.  Whatever your end of the political spectrum, whether left, right, up or down, you have the ability to choose what you believe.  Is there anything better than that?

   8. I am thankful for David Lynch.

For many of you, I know you just did a double take at this.  But hear me out.  David Lynch demonstrates something about art and life that very few have the ability to do.  Whether you consider him good or bad as a director, he explores the depths of humanity and reaches down to our inner being trying to get us to feel something.  In a world where we try to control our emotions through drugs, or people tell us what we should or should not think, feelings are something people should not control.  Getting us to feel allows us to view our humanity and see who we are on in the inside.  Through his art Lynch gets us open up the hood to our engines and see what makes us tick.  I caution you that he is not for all, and definitely not for children.

   9. I am thankful for nature.

I remember reading a book about healing and health through emotional trials and struggles.  One of the most interesting things I read said that every individual has something that bring energy to their lives.  For some people this means other groups of people.  For others this means quiet time alone in a room.  And for me, this meant being out in nature and just experiencing it up close and personal.

Whether being out at the beach at sunrise, hearing the crashing of the waves, or up in the mountains and hearing the trickling of the stream first thing in the morning, nature excites and energizes me.   Just seeing a world filled with natural beauty excites and inspires me.  Out of which I have written some of my best poetry, and experienced some of my most poignant moments.  Everyone should go out and experience the beauty of the world at some point in their lives.

Continue The Conversation

I honestly have to say that I really hope this begins a conversation about the things that makes people thankful or grateful.  What is it in your life that makes you happy that you are you?  Why would you not want to be anyone different?  When we can be thankful for the things around us, we find greater happiness and peace about where we are at that moment.  And ultimately, we get to be the confident and secure human beings that draw others to us.  I am excited to hear about the things that you are thankful for.  Even just putting up one thing here I think will send positive energy to everyone else.  Don’t just continue this conversation.  Encourage it.  And encourage the gratefulness.

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Until next time, this is me signing off and being thankful that you are here.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life