It’s like I blinked. And its almost the end of the year.
If you are like me, I am sure you are wondering how this year went by. Faster in the areas I was excited about. Slower, in the areas that caused pain.
A lot has happened this year. Good, bad and the ugly. Taking stock is certainly in order, if we are to have an even better 2016.
How do we measure a year? It is by the amount of money we made? Size of the bonus? Number of awards? Accolades? Published papers? Accomplishments? Recognitions? Speeches? Number of articles cited in? Contracts won? Sales closed?
If you have been a recipient of one or more of them, you have every reason to be proud of. From “made my day” to re-reading the article for a hundredth time to celebrating the award we have all reveled in the glory of our recognition.
As I do the victory dance one more time, I take stock of the things I am grateful for; things more simple and foundational that made all the others possible.
- My family and how they are the core of who I am
- My friends who continue to love me without any expectations
- For all the new relationships I have established this year.
- For my intellectual growth. The fact that I could spend the time gathering knowledge.
- For the material blessings. A place to call home. And a cozy bed to rest my head.
- For the mistakes I made, that made me wiser.
- For the number of times, I put my foot in my mouth. I know not to make the same mistake again.
- The number of times, I got treated badly. I am stronger because of those incidents.
I could go on an on. Long story short – the year was a blessing. In abundance. The overflowing cup. The shiny new toy. And more.
But is that all I am grateful for? Or more importantly, is this how I define gratitude? Is it about what I received? How much I got out of life? Me? Me? Me?
Or is it how much I am willing to move the needle for the people who need it the most?
The number of people, whose needles are misaligned or just broken, is far too many for us to define gratitude by how much we receive rather than how much we do or give away.
Moved by the story of a war veteran who asked for money to buy a sandwich, Komal Ahmad started Feed Forward that has now distributed over 780,000 pounds of food to hungry people in the San Francisco bay area in the last four years. Now 25, Komal wants to replicate the model across the world to solve “the world’s dumbest problem” which is how she defines hunger. With so much food going to a waste, no one should be going hungry on any day, anywhere in the world.
Whether it is the cold and wet winter of California that is challenging the lives of the 8000 people in the bay area, or the repercussions of the colossal governmental mistakes that hit the common man across the world the number of misaligned needles are way too many to ignore.
Like my happy list, this list about the realities of life all around us could be equally long. Longer actually.
As the year comes to a close, I am counting the number of times I moved the needle for others. Writing a note-to-self to send the elevator down for the others to come up. My antidote to selective amnesia that prevents me from extending a helping hand.
What excuse do I have to sit on the sidelines and watch my fellow brethren degrade?
Fact is, till I can learn to measure my gratitude by the help I extend to the needy around me, my gratitude never becomes actionable or complete.
Living a life of gratitude is just the beginning. But living is only a beginning. Demonstrating the gratitude and returning a portion of it to folks that need it is where the translation needs to happen. From having it in our hearts to making it actionable is how I measure my life’s success.
That is my case for gratitude. What is yours?