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A World of Thanks

Taking stock of what matters
Thursday, November 28, 2013, 11:33 AM

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Below, Chris and I share our reasons for why we are so thankful this year.

From Adam: The Case for Gratitude

The past few months have been a busy, even trying, time here at Peak Prosperity. Among the visible activity you've seen on this site, here's a sense of what's been going on behind the scenes:

  • New content development - We've been investing a massive amount of time & energy in this. No joke: Jason and I are often spending 12- to 15-hour days in development. Given our goals, we'll be working at this pace through the end of the year, at which point the new content will be introduced to the public.
  • New website team - We switched IT firms mid-year, which is akin to jumping from one racecar into another while driving the Indy 500.
  • New partnerships - We've been adding some big names to our dance card lately, which is resulting in interesting partnership opportunities. The challenge here is that it takes a lot time to explore these possibilities, and not every one will bear fruit.
  • Broken markets - Chris and I are extremely anxious about the current state of the markets. They are so detached now from reality that traditional signaling indicators have little significance anymore. We are spending a tremendous amount of energy identifying the navigation points that do matter as we enter further into this truly uncharted territory of over-liquefied world markets.

I realize the above probably sounds like griping. It's not, though. On the contrary: I'm extremely thankful.

Yes, we're stretched right now, but more than ever, I believe it's in pursuit of work that truly matters.

None of the fundamental challenges described in the Crash Course has been resolved or even abated. But through central planning intervention a.k.a. robbing from the future (and increasingly the present) to party today; a.k.a. bailouts, currency wars, market manipulation, accelerated resource extraction a false security blanket has been draped over the eyes of the world populace. Many are happy to release their concerns and believe that the troubles of the past 5 years are now behind us.

We, of course, still see things as they are, not as we wish them to be. And for that, we're very grateful. So we see this time as an even more crucial period to offer folks a "true north" to navigate by, while the fog of central planning meddling is obscuring all familiar landmarks.

And in a perverse way, we're thankful for the extremes to which today's markets are stretching. Every day when we hit a new record high in assets supported by weak fundamentals is one day closer to their breaking point; to the much-needed correction for which our markets are extremely overdue. We don't relish the paper wealth destruction that will accompany this, but in the end, everyone will benefit in the long run from a return to saner baselines.

So we continue with our work of clarifying the most important insights, bringing them to life in more effective ways, on a tech platform that will allow a steady drumbeat of new features, and through partners that can magnify and enhance our message. A great deal to be thankful for.

But, we are most appreciative for the difference Peak Prosperity continues to make in people's lives, including ours. We are always mindful that the key benefit this site offers is the convergence of people of good heart & mind, where important issues are discussed with intelligence and respect, and valuable support is offered in both the virtual and 'real' worlds. So THANK YOU for being an important member of this community.

And as we do each year, let's make the most of the "virtual" Thanksgiving table we've created here at this site, and if you have a moment today, share a thought, story, or photo in the Comments section below of what you're thankful for this season. Remember that while most of us are celebrating today with family and other loved ones, some of us aren't (for reasons of illness, military service, isolation, etc). Sharing in this virtual community may be the most human interaction some of our community members will have today.

From Chris: So Much to be Thankful For

Well, it's that quaint holiday in the U.S. called 'Thanksgiving,' which is probably a remnant harvest holiday where we are to give our thanks for being blessed with an abundant harvest the prior growing season.  However, since very few have any idea whatsoever where their food even comes from, it's probably safe to say that not much true appreciation for the abundance of food in our culture gets expressed.

What I am thankful for today, as I am every day, is the immense gift of time that our wondrous energy bequeathment gives us all.  We can live in the full comfort of a conditioned home that is neither too hot nor too cold.  Basic food calories are easy to come by especially if one is willing and/or able to cook their own from scratch.  Water free from common pathogens comes out of the tap.

With the basics of food, shelter, water, and warmth taken care of, we are free to move up the pyramid of actualization and devote as much time as we wish to whatever we want.  That is an extraordinary gift.

We live in the age of abundance.

True wealth is more than dollars, or yen or euros or rubles. True wealth is having your health, it is having deep and meaningful relationships with those around you, it is being safe and secure in your daily pursuits, it is having work that is meaningful and fulfilling, and it is living with a daily sense of joy and happiness.

On these fronts, I am truly blessed in life, and it is due to my health, friends, family, work, and deepening sense of what an amazing gift it is to be alive that I feel truly prosperous.

So if giving thanks is really the same as a day of practicing gratitude, then this holiday is a very important one in the year, if not the most important one.

The practice of being actively grateful is tied to happiness, and this has been studied over and over again with repeatable results.  Perhaps it should be taught to us somewhere along the line?

Of course, in many cultures and religions, gratitude is deeply embedded:

The traditional Japanese tea ceremony is steeped in gratitude. According to the official tea ceremony etiquette, called the Chado or the Way of the Tea, attendees must focus their words and actions on appreciating their surroundings, their company, and the steaming green beverage they sip on.

This ancient protocol relates to the practice of kei, one of the four cornerstone Zen philosophies integrated in the ritual. Translated as "respect," kei embodies the expression of thankfulness: It requires partakers to bow to the ceremony host before drinking, admire the tea's earthy taste and compliment the beauty of their bowl or cup. Doing so reminds those at the ceremony of their connection to nature and other people.

Customary expressions of gratitude are common in virtually every human culture, and all major religions continually relate back to it. The transient emotion surfaces most often in response to receiving some kind of a gift, whether it's a tangible present from a friend or dodging a near-death situation by sheer chance. In its most basic form, gratitude is the by-product of basic reciprocity. Similar to the brain's dopamine reward system, the positive emotion incentivizes cooperation and serves as a binding force in society.

As an affective reward, gratitude enriches the individual, in addition to the group. Just think about the range of positive emotions such as hope, trust and relief that arose the last time you felt truly grateful for something.

According to a Gallup Poll Survey, 95% of people associate gratitude with being at least somewhat happy. About half of us even feel extremely happy when gratitude washes over us.

Gratitude is really a form of becoming observant, of noticing that which is already around us, but somehow not being appreciated.  Such is the nature of being human; we are wired to tune out the common so that we might notice the slight deviation from the background.  That's part of being hunters and gatherers.

Mostly our wiring works very well, but there are times when we might want to override our basic operating schema to more finely tune our experience here on earth.  Gratitude is one of the ways we can do that.

Gratitude brings happiness, so why not have more gratitude in our daily lives?

Often we need the lack of something to really hone our appreciation for whatever it is that got taken away.  Every single time I suffer some debilitating injury, I go through this process.  When I had a knee injury leading to 6 weeks on crutches, I suddenly became very appreciative of the ability to go up stairs easily, the sense of power in my healthy knee, and the liberation of having two free hands when trying to cook.

A loss reminds us of what we had, but gratitude is the way of reminding us of what we have while we still have it. 

Everything in life is change, and nothing is permanent.  Gratitude is a way of appreciating what we have in the moment, because all we ever really have is the current moment. 

It seems that something so profound should have been expressed by someone along the line...oh wait, I guess it was:

If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the moment. 

~ Lao Tzu (604 BC - 531 BC)

So my invitation for today is to find what you are truly grateful for in your life, and to be at peace.

~ Chris and Adam

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10 Comments

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 2933
2 turkeys

The meal has yet to begin, but here are two things I'm already very thankful for:

What are you grateful about this year?

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1982
Gratitude changes your attitude

We swim in a virtual sea of blessings.  Noticing the good all around us can align us with  a sort of positive energy you can find nowhere else. There's a saying, "Gratitude changes your attitude." It certainly changed mine. What it changed me from was feelings of hopelessness, fear and despair, to emotional peace and satisfaction.

I try to stay focused on the day, because productive people do not dwell on the failures or regrets of the past - although they learn from them. I try to stay focused on today, because it's useless to fear for the future - the energy is better spent doing the small things you can change in the present.  The future is a target, but the tools of archery to reach that target are in your hands: you can only draw the bow in the now.

Today is when time touches eternity.

So what am I grateful for today?

  • The cracking fire in the warm woodstove in front of me, and a home that's toasty-warm despite it being below freezing outside.
  • A lovely day spent with family.
  • My husband, who I married only four years ago (at the age of 54.) Our partnership feels new every day, and yet as comfortable as if we'd been together for decades.
  • I'm grateful to have meaningful things to do: writing, gardening, editing, and homemaking. For a former engineer, it might sound odd to be happy to be a homemaker again, but building a nurturing home was always my first choice of a career.
  • I'm also grateful that learning much in my Master Gardener classes that I will be able to share with you all.
  • Going into the cold, bare season, I look at our store of homegrown provisions for the winter, and am profoundly grateful for both the food security it provides and the hard-won skills it represents.
  • I'm grateful for mobility: I had a congenital problem fixed by a hip replacement three years ago and have gradually gotten my strength back. Rather than do things in five-minute bursts, and then rest, I can now do things like rake the entire yard at one go.
  • I am grateful for online communities, like this one and the science fiction and fantasy writing community. We live in an incredible age, where profound friendships can form across vast distances.

I could go on and on. Whenever you get depressed or fearful, try making a list of 100 things to be grateful for. Odds are, you'll feel better far before you get to the end of the list.

Woodman's picture
Woodman
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 26 2008
Posts: 1028
Very cute Adam!  My kids top

Very cute Adam!  My kids top the list of things I'm grateful for.  And I'm grateful for being able to make so many choices to enrich my life and those around me, though anything worthwhile doesn't happen without a lot of work!

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Posts: 5568
Grateful...

..well, my eldest, all 19 years of her, is off in Europe doing the travel around Europe thing.  No real plan, no idea when she'll be back, although she won't be here for the holidays.

My younger two are going to be gone too, lickety split, and I am stunned at how fast time seems to be flying by.

So I spend more and more time enjoying whatever the moment has to offer, without judgment, whereas I used to spend time fretting about how the kids weren't doing this, or make a mess over there, or somehow being, well, kids...or teenagers as is the case now.

Seen the right way, their messes are blessing, and someday I may have to hire local teenagers to come over and mess up my house to fill in the missing messy parts...okay...probably not, but you get the idea.

This week we are finally pouring the footings for a solar installation that will take our limited PV out to the edges of our current consumption.  I am really happy to have this final part in place and moving along.

Cornelius999's picture
Cornelius999
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 17 2008
Posts: 373
Gratitude

Wishing all you folks in the US a good Thanksgiving,and I'm grateful for the intelligent and supportive forum

of the site over the years. I'm currently feeling especially grateful for having done a daily meditation practice 

(based on B Alan Wallace's "The Attention Revolution")  over the past week, the first in decades. Fingers crossed for many more weeks...

Declan

jtwalsh's picture
jtwalsh
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 1 2008
Posts: 263
Gratetful

I am grateful for my wife of thirty four years, five wonderful adult children, three grandchildren and one on the way.  I am especially grateful this year for my oldest son’s safe return from a second tour in Afghanistan.

I am grateful for every day without collapse or disaster, as each day is a step further towards sustainability.  I am grateful that even though they often look as me as if I am crazy, my children listen and are adopting the ideas and practices of sustainability into their own lives.

I am grateful for the community found at this site.  You are the most insightful, respectful people I have found on the internet.  The scope of discussion, from science to politics, to economics, to how to plant a type of seed is amazing.  I am grateful that Chris and Adam had and have the thoughtfulness, tenacity and concern for the common good that holds this place together.

Blessings and prosperity to all.

JT

 

 

KennethPollinger's picture
KennethPollinger
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 22 2010
Posts: 653
Much GRATITUDE to Our Community

Ah, yes.  I do not actively contribute much to the writings here but be assured that I VERY actively follow almost everything that is shared here.  For all of you I am extremely thankful, and feel graced by your virtual presence.  So GRATITUDE manifests Itself in my body/mind on a daily basis.

Like many of you my family is the GREATEST blessing.  I recently turned the BIG 80 and my birthday party was probably one of the highlights of my earthly life. Little grandchildren cannot be beat!!

In terms of E, E and E, my attempts to create PHYSICAL community at the Point of Infinity Retreat Center in the Catskills has been a large challenge, especially because of the horrible cold winters with the necessity of a good heating system (costing much money!).

Additionally, another attempt to create a different PHYSICAL community in Costa Rica has been a blessing supreme. Not only are the local TICOS (Cost Ricans), the salt of the earth but the environment of such beauty, with the mountains, valleys, and rivers close by the magnificent Pacific, offer one the opportunity to truly experience the holiness of planet Earth.  No need for air conditioning nor heating systems somewhat high in the mountains: 80 daytime and 65 nighttime!  Unbeatable.  AND we grow our own delicious fresh fruits ALL YEAR ROUND, as well as our veggies, seeds, along with gorgeous flowers and plants (including medicinal ones).  What more can one want?

Land is quite inexpensive and a decent home can be built for a very reasonable price--all you need is a good reliable builder and caretaker, especially if you wish to split your time in the USA and Costa Rica, with only a five hour non-stop stop flight from NYC.  And guess what: the property tax is 0.25%!!

Care to start a farm and raise animals?  Water sources abound here and much of Costa Rica is for sale.

But, of course, it is COMMUNITY that is the most important: mutual support, similar philosophies, ecologically-environmentally, with sustainability. 

So,as you can see, gratitude, blessings, grace, thankfulness, positivity reigns supreme today of all days. El Dia de Gracias.

My virtual friends, my heart wishes all of you the very best.  Please visit: www.AwarenessCenters.com, click onto Costa Rica category and enjoy your visit.  You might try Guest Houses Gallery and Mini-farm entries where I am building two more smallish houses for the future.

Adios, que vayan con Dios!

Rwrek's picture
Rwrek
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 9 2012
Posts: 18
Thank You All

Besides being extremely grateful for my faith, family and the freedoms we have, this article reminds me of other important persons to thank:

Thank you Chris for the "Crash Course" that opened my eyes to what was really going on in this troubled world and how to prepare to better meet the challenges coming. Our entire financial management, resource management and planning has changed drastically along with our two adult sons' families(and whoever else will listen). We have to keep reminding ourselves of a phrase mentioned in the Crash Course "..whatever you do will be inadequate, but necessary.."

Thank you Adam for the many technological and organizational skills to create and manage this web site and its contributors (along with other contributions we do not know about).

Thanks to the many content contributors who add depth and color to this complex picture around and ahead us, even if I do not agree entirely with some of them.

Lastly, thanks to the Comment contributors who add the personal touches, ideas and perspective, that makes me know we are not alone in facing these challenges.

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
Status: Peak Prosperity Team (Offline)
Joined: Mar 17 2008
Posts: 409
Gratitude

Thanksgiving was last week, but the gratitude goes on.  I am thankful for my kids, who are growing and thriving, and for those who mentor them.  For my parents, who are healthy and engaged with their children and grandchildren.  For my two grandmothers, fine nonagenarians.  For a newly insulated old house, built when practicality and quality went without saying.  For a good woodstove and a shed full of wood.  For warm bedding, clothing, and socks.  For pantry and freezer full of root veggies and other good edibles.  For health.  For living in town, where our need for the car is lower than ever.  For the kindness and generosity of friends.  For serendipity.  For life, and for hope.

And of course, for the work we do here at Peak Prosperity.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with all of you, to help build our collective momentum towards a different but satisfying future. 

grandefille's picture
grandefille
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 11 2010
Posts: 35
Thankful for wake-up calls

I'm profoundly grateful for my family and friends, although in a different context than most people.  In mid-August I had a stroke, at the ripe old age of 53.  My first, self-absorbed thoughts were: THAT's NOT FAIR!!!  Strokes are for old people, and I shouldn't have that problem for at least another two decades.  For several weeks, we believed that recurring episodes of facial numbness were more strokes, and I really freaked out.  What if I die while walking from the barn to the house after morning chores (as least I'd die happy).  A few days in the hospital didn't uncover the cause of the problem, but were very revealing in other ways.  From the friends who dropped everything to visit me, to the phone constantly ringing with encouraging words from family & friends, I've never felt better about my relationships with others than at that terribly stressful time.  I questioned every assumption I've ever held about the future: what if I can't DO all of those things that I'd planned? 

Several months down the line, we're pretty sure that a heart defect contributed to the stroke, and that will be repaired as outpatient surgery in a couple of weeks (thank God for the miracles of modern medicine).  More importantly, my mind is in a better place.  I take less for granted, I notice and appreciate little things, and am overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people.  Perhaps the stroke was a wake-up call, which gave me the opportunity to reevaluate many aspects of my life.  A valuable lesson, indeed!

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