Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year.
I am Turkish and I didn't grow up with Thanksgiving. The first time I heard of it was when I came to New York to do my masters in my early twenties. Friends of my dad invited me to their house in Connecticut for Thanksgiving dinner. They had three sons and there were a lot football jokes that went over my head, as did the meaning of the day and the symbolism of the food. It was the one time I met them, but to this day I am grateful for their inviting me into their home that day and making sure I wasn't alone.
Many Thanksgivings later, I still don't know much about football and, thanks to my friends, I haven't learned to cook turkey. But I have grown to love this secular holiday that is about family, friends and being grateful, and thinking about who and what to be grateful for. So it is no surprise that a recent breakfast conversation about my new podcast with my friends Aaron Britt and Erik Nelson of Herman Miller (sponsor of the podcast) turned into a conversation about feeling grateful.
The gist of it is that often I feel like I am in the pursuit of things I don't have instead of celebrating what I do have. In the process I forget being in the present time, enjoying the simple things in life as they happen. Our conversation inspired me to ask friends, family, and colleagues if this feels familiar, and if so, to help me start a list of simple things they're grateful for.
My request to them was to fill in this sentence: I am grateful for this simple thing....
And to start it off, I shared my answer:
I am grateful for working with my friends and getting into the flow together; for family dinners, especially when they don't involve any arguing with teenage daughters; for those rare but lovely occasions where I hang out with my friends in far flung places and one of them breaks in to an old song. You know what, I am grateful for moments where I can just be myself.
I am amazed, inspired and touched by the answers I received in a short time which I interpret as a tiny, welcome alternative to the current "grass is greener on the other side" social and cultural environment that we currently live in, where it is to easy to forget what we have and bemoan what we don't. This list will keep me going until next year and I hope you will find it useful too.
Simple Things to Be Grateful for
1. I'm grateful for vacuuming. The sonorous hum and balletic gestures produce a meditative ritual. That sensory process, coupled with the subtle satisfaction of bringing momentary order to my apartment--briefly holding off that undeniable progression of entropy--offer a simple, durable pleasure...the undervalued phenomenology of routine chores.
2. I'm grateful for the opportunity to have an impactful job that I enjoy, a loving family that tolerates my eccentricities, and the fulfillment that comes from friends who bring passion to their pursuits.
3. I am grateful for my robust good health, for my incredible friends, for knowing that what brings me the most joy is being of service to others, and for my drive and self-efficacy.
4. In a world where mean things are happening to people and our planet, some beyond our control and some at our own hand, I am really grateful for all of the simple, random gestures of kindness and love by my family and friends.
5. I am grateful for the ability to travel to different countries for work. I am also grateful for hand sanitizer when it comes to public transport.
6. I am grateful for kind, generous, wise deities, ancestors, friends, colleagues, neighbors, coaches, mentors, institutions, governments, and family who support and hold space in this world for me to find purpose, opportunity and contentment. I am also grateful for homemade coffee ice cream, Havanese puppies, lingering hugs, spontaneous smiles, and every moment of real human connection.
7. I am grateful for this email that triggers gratitude.
8. I am grateful for each and every second of my life, for the moments I have experienced and for the moments I will experience. No matter if they are nice or tough, I either win or learn.
9. I'm grateful that my son, mom, husband, sister and dog are healthy.
10. I'm grateful for butter, pencils, Iceland and anyone with the heart and courage to share their story.
11. I'm grateful for good health, strong relationships, and opportunities to bring out the best in others.
12. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my learning with others and for the peace I get with being able to be ok with being vulnerable and comfortable with my three favorite words "I don't know".
13. I am grateful for family, friends, a life of connection, laughter, color and dreams.
14. I am grateful for this simple thing called LIFE! It has taken me a few heart attacks, three marriages and 4 children to revel in the simple fact of life! Everyday is a gift, don't squander it, love and hug and give everyone the best you can, everyday.
15. I am grateful for everyone who has the courage to be coached and the courage to tell me I need to change something. Loving critics are those who make us better, faster.
16. As chaotic as it is, I am thankful for those moments when my design (work) life and my family life overlap--having my daughter make her halloween costume in my studio, watching her trace and cut each feather, not perfect, but perfectly charming. Or having tiny assistants on a photo shoot, simultaneously messing things up and making things more interesting.
17. I am grateful for this email (think about it). And, every night when I go to bed I thank my God for my health.
18. I'm grateful to my parents who truly made me who I am, and I'm grateful to feel their presence on Thanksgiving.
19. I am grateful for wonderful friends and mentors who have helped me. I am grateful for having parents who set expectations early on in my life. I am very grateful that I will be a first time grandfather very soon. I am grateful for my health.
20. I am grateful for hot water (showers) and cold, clean water to drink.
21. Just last week as I was walking home I was overcome by a very strong feeling of love and gratitude for all of my friends. So much so that I thought I should write to all of them (including you) and express that. I was suddenly very conscious of the fact that my friendships are the best thing in my life. Of course, all of the other things in life (that I'm also grateful for) took over and those notes have yet to be written.
22. I am grateful for the love I have in my life. I am grateful for my good health and sense of humor, for the education that my parents gave me and for them to have insisted that I put some money aside while I had a good job.
23. My dog, he's so funny. The view out the window. The view through my computer screen that brings the world to me. The people I see the most. My daughter and son who have graduated from college and got jobs they love. My husband, who's love is solid and who makes me grow. My clients who are changing the world by stepping into greater leadership. My ninja personal trainer who challenges my mind as well as body three times a week. My home office, made of glass so the room glows even on really cloudy days. The very tough experiences I've had lately that have galvanized personal growth. Today.
24. I'm grateful for everybody who helped me fail and discover that failure is just the beginning of amazing new opportunities. I wouldn't be where I am if others hadn't made me fail. My greatest opportunities presented themselves to me after a failure.
25. I'm grateful that I'm more optimistic than I am pessimistic.
26. I am grateful for everyday when I have thoughts of how grateful I am for what I have in life.
27. I'm grateful for the incredible love, knowledge and support shared from family, friends and strangers around the world, I'm extremely grateful that most people in the world are actually great. I'm also rather grateful for technology in general allowing me to feel closer to home, regardless of where I am in the world.
28. I am grateful for my phone. For entertaining me. For talking to my friends. For connecting me to my friend who is leaving at the end of the year to Shanghai and to my BFF who might be leaving to go to boarding school.
29. I'm grateful for my health, for my children's happiness and health, for having a partner who makes me laugh, for Saturday mornings when I catch up with the world, far-away friends and ideas while having good tea in my favorite china, and for long walks in New York City and the small gestures of New Yorkers every day.
30. I am grateful for my family and friends who accept me and love me for who I am and for my almost 102 year old grandfather who has taught me resilience as well as to focus on what really matters and let the rest go.
31. I am grateful for the freedom to be myself and make my own decisions.
32. I am grateful for the abundance of unconditional love in my life.
Readers, what is a simple thing you are grateful for?
This article first appeared on Inc.com on November 22, 2017