Rolling Out Something New



Every day is a gift, especially as we age up, and realize the time we have left in this glorious world, is far less than the time we have already spent here. I don’t mean to be Debbie Downer (is that actually someone’s name) but it’s true. I bought a new calendar as an act of hope where I make daily notations in case I forget where I’m going. But next year I plan on tracking something new. 

Gratitude is ever so fashionable these days although I don’t believe it qualifies as a movement. Gratitude has become the well traveled path for some, partially due to our obsession with happiness (of which I am guilty), but also the newly discovered brain altering benefits of regularly giving thanks. Who knew? 

Brene Brown knew of course, as if a cultural psychic, she understands the systemic reason for cultural phenomena long before they appear on the horizon. How does she do that? She’s from Texas, you know the land of big hair, big boobs, and apparently big ideas. We’re a nation hungry for more joy, because we’re starving from a lack of gratitude says Brene Brown. And as luck would have it, this is an easy fix. 

The truth is we are all story tellers. I know hosting a blog is not for everyone but each of us has an important narrative we haul around with us. Some stories we inherit from our parents, our culture, even our unique experiences, but the mysterious part of our story is wrapped up in our DNA. Yes, it’s true. Apparently we come pre-programed to see the glass half empty (we want what we don’t have, Eve, apple), this is an illusion, we can learn to see the glass half full, or simply be grateful for the glass itself. The things you believe to be uniquely true about yourself, others, and the world shade your understanding of what is possible. I believe…is a real thing.

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Jesus

One of my Dad’s favorite sayings went something like this, “what you think about will come about.” If you spend the night curled up in a fetal position, contorted with worry and despair, in the morning this will be the lens from which you view of the world. There’s plenty of evidence to sustain this vision with war, famine, hatred, greed, and fear dominating the daily news. But if you say to yourself, these emotions are temporary, they stem from my illusion of control, and although I may not be able to completely replace them, I can soften them with a grateful awareness. I’m warm, there is someone sleeping next to me, I have a beloved dog, it’s going to rain next week, I am loved, there is coffee, and it appears I will survive another day (that’s a good thing). Before you know it, your cup runneth over. 

Jesus never promised to eliminate all of the chaos from our lives, He said He’d bring meaning to it. Bob Goff

Now here’s a little piece of good news that no one expected, the older you get, the greater the benefit of a thankful disposition. What? You read me right. Seasoned brains have a reward center that is activated when we see good happening in the world, as opposed to younger brains, which tend to reward when good happens exclusively to them. Have you watched a two year old eating ice cream? Have you watched Grammie watching a two year old eating ice cream? Same cerebral rewards.

Simple as snow on the tongue of a child. Yes, God appears like that. Mark Nepo

Research indicates that more you practice gratitude, the more joy you receive from not only seeing your world through a new lens, but a genuine pleasure for the happiness of others. OMG! Do you see the implications? It’s the whole drop in the pond philosophy, as our rings of gratitude expand exponentially, the good in the world expands at the same ratio. Hello, we have a moral obligation to hearten gratitude, not only in ourselves, but others.

“This a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” Maya Angelou

Not to be overly dramatic, but Jesus is coming in like 5 days, ready or not. As the world labors towards his sacred birth, I scramble to wrap presents, and trim the tree. He had one message. It was so important, so valuable, that God actually became human to share this one thing with us. He came, “to proclaim good news to the poor, heal the broken-hearted, give the blind new sight, break the bonds of those who are persecuted.” This is all of us folks, all of us, because we are in this together. If I am suffering, so are you, and the only way to alleviate this pain, is to solve it together. 

Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but… life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves. Gabriel Garcia Marquez

What the hell is this reign of God you might ask? Good question. It’s sort of an upside down philosophy. The reign of God (simular to rings of gratitude) is like a treasure hidden in the field, a pearl of great price, an invitation for all of us to become yeast in a world used to unleavened bread. This is the secret ingredient. It was something I learned from Krista Tippett, who sponsored a gathering of people, and then commissioned them to become yeast in the world, like gratitude, it increases when kneaded into the heart. Adrienne Rich says, love is the light coming into the world, and I cast my lot with this infant, who year after year, with no extraordinary power, reconstitutes the world. Let’s roll out the new year with unexpected acts of kindness, endless rings of gratitude, that encompass all that ever was, is now, and ever will be.


The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. Elizabeth Gilbert


I’m Living in the Gap, drop by anytime, we’ll search for buried treasures. 


Anecdotes: 

  • Be silly, be honest, be kind. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. G.K. Chesterton
  • Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance. Eckhart Tolle
  • Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie
  • I truly believe we can either see the connections, celebrate them, and express gratitude for our blessings, or we can see life as a string of coincidences that have no meaning or connection. For me, I’m going to believe in miracles, celebrate life, rejoice in the views of eternity, and hope my choices will create a positive ripple effect in the lives of others. This is my choice. Mike Ericksen
  • Link to the On Being Gathering I attended, hosted by Krista Tippett.







6 Comments

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  1. Merry Christmas! This edition of your blog does a great job of setting a generous and thankful tone. After reading it, reflecting and then reading it again, the part that jumps out to me is gratitude. While I agree that gratitude is trendy, I am concerned that for many (myself included at times,) it is superficial. I complain when the internet is slow (I should be grateful that it exists!,) when work is tough (I have a job that pays!,) I missed the green light (I have a car!.) If you look at the history of man/woman, we live in the best of times. People have more of everything, longer lives, less pain and suffering, more freedom and opportunity. We should be grateful! Most of our problems are self-inflicted. My last thought on gratitude is that giving helps both the giver and recipient. People feel better when they help others, and people are more grateful to receive something from another human than from an institution. People were a little nicer to their neighbors in the day where a broken leg meant your neighbor had to help with the harvest, and they were sincerely grateful when they did. As you so aptly point out, most of us are preprogrammed to see the glass half empty. In days gone by, you and your family may have done better with a little paranoia. Maybe we should move from Germany in 1932, maybe we should build that castle because those Vikings might come for our land, maybe there is something with claws in that jungle. However, in today’s society, though a little concern and preparation go a long way, life is better, if, as you have previously stated, we choose happy. Your dad was wise. What we see is colored by our deeply held beliefs and positions. This is so common in today’s social political world and can be applied to both ends of the spectrum. As has been said, if you are a hammer, most things look like a nail. No shocker here, you get a Christmas song.My favorites include the entire Nutcracker.Christmas wrapping by the Waitresses.A Sussex Christmas (Produced by John St. John)I saw 3 ships. StingBut nooo. You get my all time favorite. It is a sad yet uplifting song. It reflects upon the coldness of life. It reminisces about what could have been, a love lost. It is touching and poignant. Of course, it’s working title was Christmas in the Drunk tank. It is made more heartfelt by the premature passing of the lead female vocalist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9jbdgZidu8Merry Christmas again. My best to you, yours and all the readers of your blog.

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  2. You had me at the Texas comments- we do like everything big here! Kidding aside, loved the sentiment here. I'm also a fellow happiness junkie. I believe we've got to look for happiness and joy in the little things and be grateful every day.

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  3. Hi Mike! I am finally done with the obligatory dinners, annual events, gift exchanges, and Christmas shenanigans. There is part of me that is immensely sad and ridiculously grateful. It was difficult to say good-by to my daughter Kelley who set off to make her home in Boston, to watch Dante head back to Newman, Julie and Nic back to their normal routines. It's like all that planning and anticipating came and went so quickly. I reminded myself over and over to stay present, enjoy the moment, forget all the senseless things that vie for my attention. We arrived at the lake today and I'm enjoying your comments, observations, and of course the music. For me gratitude is cumulative, the more you practice, the larger your bounty. When my mood tanks I can usually climb out by counting the thing in my line of vision that I am grateful for. Right now it's my dog, a wooden Christmas tree, the lake, Kelley's painting, a blooming Christmas cactus, and a santa Larry and I bought while we were in Maine. See I feel better just scanning for the good.Today I'm searching for a new topic to write about. I'm late in posting. But I'm sure by morning some topic will make itself known. We're making plans to bring in the New Year Clearlake style. Dinner at home, relaxing with family and friends, board games, and maybe a little wine. I'm sort of excited to see what 2019 will bring? I'm visualizing new experiences that will expand my worn out views and bring me to new and exciting places! Missouri? Happy New Year Mike and Gail!

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  4. Hi Shelley! I hope the Texas comment made you smile! I do love Texas but I'm exquisitely pleased to meet a fellow happiness junkie! Thank you for stopping by Living in the Gap and sharing your beautiful thoughts. I totally agree, gratitude has to be a daily practice. Hope to meet you in the comments some time again soon. Happy New Year Shelley.

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