Thanksgiving is a holiday that has the potential to change our lives for our better. For this reason, it is my favorite of all holidays. The food doesn’t hurt, either.
According to academic research, giving thanks leads to gratitude which leads to happiness. In our 10-minute Law Firm Podcast the other day, we discussed this relationship. We then went on to discuss other happiness cultivation techniques, including recognizing that contentedness is largely an internal process, tracking your achievements, and recognizing that your happiness level now is what it is likely to be in the future.
It is easy in today’s age to be anxious and angry. Our time-saving devices tend to not give us more time, but the ability to cram more activities into one day. Life is hectic and we are stretched thin. We live in a very divided age, which leads to frustration and anger. Whatever your politics, I’m sure you’ve seen something reported in your news media or social network of choice that makes you so upset you can feel it in your gut.
But can I float a couple of ideas to counter all of this stuff?
1) We do have our problems, but we live in an amazing age.
We take for granted things that people throughout human history desperately wished for. Our children typically survive to adulthood. Women typically survive childbirth. The number of agonizing diseases that kill us is far less than in the past.
Additionally, we enjoy humdrum conveniences of air conditioning, the ability to travel anywhere in the world in a day, or GPS navigation. We enjoy the freedom of unfettered access to ideas through books. We can say what we want and protest our government in the street. We communicate in real-time with loved ones in distant locations.
2) Divisiveness is profitable, so don’t be manipulated.
People are making money off of your outrage. News organizations are having a hard time making money, and they are facing competition from their left and right flanks, so they are constantly adjusting their headlines and images to achieve a visceral reaction from people. The almighty click is dominating the direction of our discourse. Twitter and Facebook thrive off the discord. So the next time you see an Internet article that pisses you off, recognize that your emotions are being manipulated for profit.
And your favorite opinionated pundit on TV or radio? Find out what their salary is. They are making a lot of money stoking anger.
I don’t mean to say there are not legitimate issues taking place in our society that need to be worked on. From the tragedy of the opioid epidemic to societal injustices, there certainly are problems and I don’t mean to diminish those. But do recognize that people are advancing their careers making money at society’s expense. The trick is to identify those instances.
3) Our digital world is making us anxious.
I highly recommend taking a day or two away from your smartphone. It is hard to put these devices down, but excessive usage of them are proven to cause anxiety. Because of all of the shouting that comes through my smartphone via news and social media, I have started referring to my device as my “outrage machine”.
One of the antidotes to life’s stressors and digital overdosing? Spending time in nature.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the people in my life, the journey I’ve been on, and the privileges I enjoy living in the United States. I wish all of our Rocket Matter family and the larger community as a whole a peaceful, happy holiday today.