It’s been a hell of a year.
The election didn’t turn out the way I expected or hoped. A lot of people that I admired have died. Facebook is full of angst and fake news stories. It is easy to despair.
On a personal basis, I am now a year and half into the experiment of working outside of the corporate world. My book has not sold as well as I hoped, so far. I am not traveling all over the planet or getting published in The New Yorker.
And if you were the type of person who judges, you might look at the people I love and judge them to be “not normal.” Some of them don’t match the exact, traditional template of what an American is “supposed” to be.
I choose to look at things differently.
I choose to look at America as a place of endless potential. There are terrible people here, as everywhere. But we are a country of laws and elections and checks and balances, and we have always had terrible people and managed to move forward anyway. We have a free press and it strives to do its job well, and often does. Nothing horrible goes unopposed or unexposed, and tyranny does not rule. When we reach extremes, we tend to swing back. So I have hope. I will be vigilant, but I have hope. Nearly 64 million of us voted for a woman, more than for any other presidential candidate in this election. I have no doubt that before I die, I will see a woman president, a Jewish president, and a gay president.
The famous people who died this year had amazing lives. The artists and statesmen and women lived lives worth celebrating, and left legacies behind.
The angst on Facebook is an exaggeration — and Facebook will exaggerate hope, too, when it inevitably arrives. The fake news problem is a problem that technology can solve. In two years, it won’t be an issue. We also have the wonder of instant access to any news source on the planet from the palm of our hands. Anything we read, we can verify. That is a wonderful thing.
When it comes to my personal success, I look at my life with happiness and satisfaction. I am proud of my book, and nearly everyone who reads it loves it. So many people are benefitting from it. I keep hearing from people who want me to speak to their customers, conduct seminars for their staff, help them get published, or edit their books. They are happy to pay me for work that I enjoy. In this life I have built, I get to write, to edit, to think, and to talk about writing, editing, and thinking every day. I may not be published in The New Yorker, but I am published in the site of the Harvard Business Review and soon, in the Wall Street Journal. People have read stuff on my blog a million and half times. These are things that make me happy. As for traveling less — that makes me happy, too.
Then I look at my family. I have been married to the same person for 36 years, and I love her. My children may not match what somebody else thinks they should be, but they match what I think they should be: independent, thoughtful, free-thinking, and intelligent. Of course I love them, but now that they are young adults in college, I like them, too.
My parents are still vibrant and independent and together in their 80s — my father is still teaching! My siblings have married terrific people and built lives and families that I admire and enjoy. While we will not be together today, we’ll all be together in January — and that is not something that you can take for granted.
So I choose to be thankful for all the things I have. Some things will get worse. Many things will get better. But to live in a situation in which I and those I love can strive, succeed, accomplish things, and be together — that is truly a blessing.
I am thankful that you are reading this, because without readers, I am nothing. I hope that, like me, you get to attain the success that you seek, and more importantly, to recognize it as a success when it happens.