This morning at breakfast, after listening to me bubble over with happiness about the just-ended social computing symposium, a friend told me that she thought I was the most grateful person she knew.
I've been turning that over in my head all day, and have come to the conclusion that (a) she was right about me being a fundamentally grateful person, and (b) I'm very grateful to have gratitude be one of my defining characteristics.
When people start in 12-step programs, one thing their sponsor often asks them to do is to make a gratitude list. Even if the world seems to be crashing down around you, it's usually possible to find something to be grateful for--the hot cup of coffee you're sipping, a hug from a child, the song that made you want to get up and dance, the way the light and shadow looks in the last moments of a sunset. The act of writing those things down--or speaking them aloud to another person--shifts your focus in a profound way. If you do it on a regular basis, it can fundamentally change the way you see your life (and yourself).
One of yesterday's speakers quoted Sheryl Crow's song Soak Up The Sun in his talk: "It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got." That really resonated with me, and this morning's conversation helped me to realize why.
Every year running this event takes everything out of me. I go into it a giant bundle of stress and worry. But every year I leave feeling ridiculously happy and energized. I've had my mind stretched by brilliant people who said things that informed and inspired me. I've connected people who I know will go on to do great things together. And I've had a chance to work and play with some of the people I love and respect most in the world. That's what I want, it's what I've got, and it's a pretty damn good reason to be grateful.