Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and so for something a bit different, I thought I would write up some thoughts about gratitude.
One thing that is easy to take for granted is the simple fact that we are living in this specific time in history. Looking over the span of human history, we have luxuries which people a few hundred years ago couldn’t even imagine. Consider the Thanksgiving meal – isn’t it great that we can just go to the store and buy a turkey, as opposed to raising a turkey ourselves? I certainly don't know the first thing about raising turkeys.
Simple things like sanitation and refrigeration vastly improve the quality of living compared to the majority of people in all of history. Advancements in technology in just about every facet of life are better than they have ever been – we don’t have to travel long distances by horseback, we have vaccines which save us from disease, we have encyclopedias of knowledge available to us on the internet, and much more.
It is easy to get caught up in news cycle that makes us think that everything is terrible, but in reality, things are really good. A fun website to check out is Our World in Data (1), which tracks a bunch of different global indicators over time. A lot of the visualizations show how much the world is improving over time.
Which leads me to a second thought. I read a good article recently about all of the people who are involved in producing a simple thing like a cup of coffee (2). Of course there are the people who grow the coffee beans, but also the people who ship the coffee throughout the world, the people involved in water distribution, production of coffee machines, raw materials, packaging, etc. No one person plans (or could possibly plan) all of the thousands of actions of who interact and trade to produce a cup of coffee. Rather, the complex web of interactions is orchestrated through the market – another thing that we often don’t give much thought, but that I am grateful for.
We all have a lot of reasons to be thankful, including (and maybe especially) the mundane things that we take for granted.
Finally, I am thankful for all of the support, encouragement, and advice that I have received from my wife, family, friends, and colleagues since I have started consulting. I really appreciate it!
I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!