The Parent of All Virtues

The Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero observed that “Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others.” Acknowledging every good thing in our lives, no matter how brief or small, at all times, helps fuel kindness, benevolence, and other positive traits. Numerous schools of thoughts, as well as every major religion, have affirmed the importance of gratitude to both individual and societal well-being. I can attest to the importance of gratitude for my own mental and emotional health, but fortunately there is lots of evidence to back it up, too.

In light of the universal importance of gratitude, psychologists and social scientists have increasingly focused their attention on exploring the benefits of gratitude. Multiple studies have shown a correlation between gratitude and increased well-being—not only for the individual exercising gratitude, but for their recipients and even third parties. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Reflections

Amid my indulgence of a rare day off and lots of delicious food, I did attempt to take the time to truly reflect upon what I was grateful for. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long.

I’d like to wish everyone a great thanksgiving, and to express my own gratitude to each and every one of you – friend, reader, or acquaintance – for enriching my life in one way or another. I am a very fortunate person. Most people in this world don’t have a computer they can share this on, or a delicious meal they can enjoy with their families. In all of human history, I represent a minority. I’ve never known true loneliness, disease, poverty, or fear. I’ve been through my share of hardships, like everyone, but I’ve always been lucky enough to have a vast network of wonderful people to support and inspire me. I am extremely grateful, and should be each and every day.

I’ve had a really good life. In fact, I’ve had an exceptionally good life when compared to so many billions. I know I’ve made this case numerous times before, and a lot of people are probably sick of it. But I can never cease to be so grateful for everything I have.

After all, why me? Why should I have so many wonderful, loving people enriching my life? Why should I have lived a life free of suffering and misery? Even now, in the face of some very trying financial troubles, I still have it far better than most people (i.e. I still have a job, a home, and a comfortable standard of living).

Seeing all that food, and being surrounded by so many loved ones, revealed just how wealthy I am – physically, socially, and emotionally – when compared to so many others. I truly felt on top of the world, and at that point I realized what little reason I have to be unhappy and unfulfilled. I already have so much more than I could ever need at this point. Even if I desire more, as I admittedly do, I can be content in knowing that, as I stand, life is as good as it needs to be.

With all that said, I am very grateful. Grateful not to fear going hungry or thirsty, to live in a time and place untouched by war and degradation. Grateful to have such a loving and supportive family, and parents who raised me well and put everything they had into giving me the comfortable, happy life they never did. Grateful that my life is free of the personal tragedies and troubles that have bedeviled so many people I know.

I’m also grateful to you, my friends and readers, for motivating me so much over all these years, and solidifying my purpose in life: to give back to a world that has given me so much, even though it didn’t have to.

I’ll end this post on a less dramatic note – a nice bit of trivia and history regarding Thanksgiving.