Visit with Jim – Gratitude

Today’s post is singularly focused on one thing: being grateful.   

This was prompted, after watching a TEDx Talk by Arthur Brooks – The Art and Science of Happiness that was shared to me by a colleague.  The exercise is common and focuses on counting what we have and are grateful for rather than what we do not have and yearn for.   The latter effort places a disproportionate emphasis on loss and want.   

To bundle all of this into a trite: I am grateful for the people in my life seems to diminish the power in the exercise. 

In the equation of happiness, it is more effective and powerfully rewarding to count what is in already our bucket and come to realize that it is overflowing and often abundant.  What I found in the exercise below was that it was compelling in a few unforeseen ways: 1) I wanted to continue to add more; 2) I wanted to unpack more; 3) I never entertained putting a want or desire in the list.  Each entry prompted further people and experiences to appear in front of my mind.  I could easily unearth more.  In speaking with my friend, I also observed that all my material possessions could burn to the ground the list below remains intact and unchanged.  It is the start of a anchor or harbor of happiness for me.

So this is my first swing at this exercise.  Here we go…

I am grateful for the following people and experiences that have enriched my life:

  • To know that everything before my parents originates from four courageous ancestors who boarded ships without social or financial resources, in very difficult accommodations in the late 1800s to land in a country they did not know or understand, who then worked diligently to allow the future below to materialize
  • To know that over a century later we are the result of multiple generations endeavor to make the future incrementally better for the ones to follow
  • To know that everything below originates from two loving hard working parents who had normal routine jobs and did not possess great wealth
  • My wife and best friend
  • Our older son
  • Our younger son
  • To have our two sons that are great human beings
  • To have to two sons that are both bright and successful in their educational journeys
  • My brother, our lives together, and his impact on my life
  • My sister, our lives together, and her impact on my life
  • My uncles, aunts, cousins and all my blood relatives and the fabric of family they have woven into my life
  • My in laws and all our relatives for the same richness they have added to my life
  • My health
  • My wife’s health
  • Our sons’ health
  • My personal happiness
  • Our individual and collective happiness
  • To have a grandfather that taught me how to truly value one’s family 
  • To have family afternoons and dinners with games, debates and arguments that always ended in hugs, love and anticipation of the next time we would meet again
  • To be able to enjoy many childhood summers at Lake Panamoka on Long Island 
  • To have an uncle that taught me how to be profoundly courageous in the most difficult of life moments
  • The gift I have unearthed in the ability to increase the light and optimism in the world
  • The ability to create art in a medium that I am passionate about
  • The opportunity to create a giving activity of free kindness with my wife creating Moments of Joy 
  • The capability to create a community around that activity
  • To have met a wonderfully talented couple in Miami’s art scene who listened to me then pushed me to go far beyond what I ever thought possible with my artistic craft
  • To have met an amazing photographer in Miami who simply challenged me to take the leap 
  • To develop a lasting trusting relationship with these people only to learn and understand how images become art
  • The courage and confidence to put my artwork out in art shows in Miami, New York and in many other venues where I could learn to better relate to an audience
  • The persistent courage to publish art to brighten peoples’ lives
  • To have shared my photography craft with a dear friend and his son
  • To have parents who volunteered in their communities as firefighters and EMS personnel
  • To have parents who taught me right from wrong and the ability to see that early on
  • To jump in the car with my parents and see what community volunteerism meant in real terms and time
  • The privilege to start volunteering on ambulances at age 14years old and help people out in distress
  • The ability to establish life long friendships and remain in contact with many people from that era
  • The chance to learn through competition as a first responder and win (sometime lose) with a variety of teams
  • The reinvigorating capability to reflect back on the people I met and worked in CVAC 
  • To progressively advance my knowledge and skill sets in healthcare as an First Aider, EMT, Paramedic and beyond
  • To learn to be a Paramedic in NYC at Beekman Downtown Hospital from amazing faculty 
  • To become a NYC Blacksheep paramedic and treat patients in volatile, uncertain and dangerous environments
  • To have walked away from collisions and scenarios that should have left me badly injured, but without a scrape
  • To have safely served in the streets of NYC during the very violent mafioso and crack eras 
  • To work with some of the most adept, agile and innovative emergency service people 
  • To laugh with these same people and an implausible amount of fun on the job 
  • To host the many Pig Roasts that celebrated the hard work of NYC EMS 
  • To remain in touch with many of these people and for them to know that they profoundly impacted my life 
  • To know and honor those who worked in those ambulances serving their communities that have passed on 
  • To be able to train a colleague EMT/Paramedic and then have the kindness returned from his as faculty at the training program below
  • To learn that being curious and a lifelong learner is a powerful navigation tool for one’s career goals
  • The ability to see that returning to college with purpose was a well considered decision
  • To learn from wise faculty in chemistry, biology and mathematics
  • The opportunity to be accepted into, enter and graduate from medical school
  • When locked in an office for hours with my interviewing faculty at LAC+USC I could tap into my EMS skills to remain safe and calm while a shooter roamed the halls 
  • Being unharmed from that event and able to extend my heartfelt wishes of hope and healing to the Residency Chair on behalf of the injured physicians and staff and affirm that LAC+USC was the right place for me to learn
  • Being accepted into LAC+USC as an emergency medicine resident
  • To have an extended family in California that openly and lovingly welcomed me when I move across country 
  • To the countless patients who trusted me and allowed me to treat them as I learned the art and science of medicine
  • Learning along side and from some of the smartest, funniest, and clinically adept co-residents and faculty
  • For those who know him: the chance to learn but a parcel of Ed Newton’s medical wisdom
  • The chance to join a stream of program graduates that established a benchmark practice of emergency medicine in Panorama City
  • To learn to steer a 45 foot sailboat after a life time of power boating which led me to understand how to balance and dance with forces beyond one’s control
  • To be comfortable alone in silence by myself exploring the world
  • To serve with the LA Sheriffs Air Squad Five high angle and mountain rescue unit
  • To have safely flown to the ground hours after, unbeknownst to us at the time, all five blades of the helicopter were slashed open while ferrying search and rescue squads into the mountains 
  • To live at the beach in Los Angeles for a few years and learn to relish every day life 
  • To work with and learn from some of the best ED nurses in the world
  • To meet my wife above in that group of amazing people AND to stay in touch with many of those same people
  • To raise our children in a nourishing community and school environment in Woodland Hills
  • To have an medical device idea and bring it to two patents 
  • To qualify for, and enter an MBA program at Pepperdine
  • To learn the hard lesson that a great idea and patents do not create riches
  • To have an MBA cohort I trusted to tell me the truth about the above because it was important to hear
  • To learn humility in that having a physician’s license does not impart the wisdom of business savvy and experience
  • To learn from my MBA faculty 
  • To work with that cohort and continue to stay in touch with them, well over a decade later
  • To be able to recognize that life is an adventure to be savored
  • To realize that I had a choice and when my clinical time was done, recognize that moment and choose a new direction
  • To the SoCal team that took a leap of faith on me as an emerging leader and allowed me to interview several times in order to develop a lasting trusting working relationship
  • To the leadership team that I worked with and learned from while serving and supporting the West coast Concentra operations 
  • To the VP of Operations who taught me the value and power of clear, crisp communications and cascades
  • To the Miami team that helped launch our physician specialty practice to improved the quality of life for our patients
  • To the colleagues from that team that invited me to sit at their table and oversee the multistate clinical operations for seniors 
  • To the team in the East that trusted and invited me to join their team and help them grow our operations and service
  • To the non-medical leaders who asked for my perspective, heard my input and applied those insights to help solve complex clinical problems and make peoples’ lives better
  • To the national teams that I serve and support helping millions of members live their best life
  • To support and work with the many deeply committed health care workers in many communities as they endeavored to help so many people during COVID
  • To the people who extended a hand, listened and help me dust myself off and move forward during from very difficult professional transitions
  • To have learned to remain steady, calm and clear in mind of my purpose and focus in the different aspect of my life’s work
  • To the many many people who have touched my life, and hopefully have shared back to you, as you have moved through your career journeys
  • To the countless people whom I have had the honor to help improve your life experiences both directly and indirectly
  • The ability to help people in a very complicated world
  • To have the courage to embark and navigate through a series of progressively complex and challenging career phases
  • To have no regrets at each change whether successful and or not
  • To be able to impart to our children that same fearless approach to life and careers
  • To build personal and professional relationships at a distance quickly and effectively in a curious virtualized world
  • To learn from a Florida colleague who was and is an amazing mentor, consigliere and North star in my career
  • To have the honor to build several diverse teams from the ground up and see individuals flourish and embark on their own adventures
  • To hear, listen to and incorporate the wisdom of bright lives in my life
  • To have heard the secret of living life debt free, make that commitment and take that leap
  • To have a personal board of directors to seek wise counsel when I face complex decisions
  • And so, to close it out, having learned the lesson of what I have to be grateful for rather than what I want.  The former is abundance and the latter hollow and empty

This list was initially hard to start, but then quickly became difficult to stop.  Once started, the focus on what to be grateful for became an oasis, a font and a well spring.  There is plenty to find wrong in the world or want to posses.  That leaves the cup half empty.  Mine was far fuller than I ever remembered.   What is on your list?  Now I am not supposed to do this on a blog as it will take you away from the website, but hey it is the holiday season: Click here to learn about Arthur Brooks

Join me in a fireside chat via Zoom in the evening to discuss any aspect of my artwork.  To qualify, and join a video conversation send your contact information here and let me know what you would want to talk about.  The selected participants will receive a 25% discount on any of my unlimited edition pieces of art.  I will personally sign the piece at printing.  Even more, the gallery is offering this purchase risk free for you. Free shipping, Free return, and no questions asked if you are unhappy with the art work.  You can keep the print for 30 days to enjoy the selection in your home or office. This risk free offer does not apply to metal, acrylic and other specialized media prints.





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