Welcome to the YouTopian Journey. Each week I will be sharing unique wisdom that can help you in the daily battles that we must all fight in the game of life. This week, in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, I will be discussing why you should be thankful to others and to circumstances, both good and bad.
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Now onto the good stuff.
THANKFUL TO OTHERS
“In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.”-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison
We live in a technological age of self-made brands and self-made success. We follow people on social media who by all measure, appear happy, healthy, and wealthy. We desire to mimic them, one day achieving the same level of success. These people share their social accounts, lifestyle, feelings, advice, travels, belongings, etc. In fact, nothing is off the table.
Everything is shared.
Everything but how they actually achieved their success.
Everything but the circumstances that they faced and people who helped them.
After all, it is much easier to boast that you are a self-made success rather than shatter the illusion that others supported your journey.
It is much easier to sell how you had no skills or education rather than share that your family funded everything.
And it is much easier to brag of how you went against the odds rather than participated in a game that was fixed in your favor from the very beginning.
“In every class of society, gratitude is the rarest of all human virtues.”-Wilkie Collins
In our era of clout, consumerism, and narcissism, it is easy to forget who we are and where came from. More importantly, it is difficult to remember and reward those who actually helped us along the way.
But this is a foolish way of living. We need others. We need their stories, their strength, their friendship, their support, their wisdom, and their help. More importantly, we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for this help nor should we hide once we have some measure of success.
“Do not be ashamed of help.”-Marcus Aurelius
We must acknowledge the help of others and the role they played and may still play in our future to come. Because there is no such thing as a self-made success.
This bears repeating.
There is no such thing as a self-made success.
Someone raised you. Someone taught you. Someone motivated you. Someone inspired you. Someone came before you and shared their journey so that you could begin yours.
You must appreciate all of them and thank them. More importantly, you must return the favor by helping others.
Because no matter what industry you are in, you will soon come to realize that it is a very small world. Trust me. I have been involved in a lot of areas throughout my short time here. Entertainment, hospitality, technology, Hollywood, entrepreneurship, academia, and Wall Street. Even though these may differ wildly, the key people in each vector all seem to know one another. It becomes vital to conduct yourself in a manner that is respectable and humble as there are far too many self-absorbed and arrogant people.
We don’t need another.
“Upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.”-Alexander The Great
You must share your talents and knowledge with the world. You must walk your own path to not only create your place, but inspire others to do the same. You must shine as an example of what can be done, because you are actually taking the action to do it. And you must never forget who was there to help you at every step of the way. It is a difficult thing to talk praise of another, but it is rewarding. It keeps you grounded and shows others that you are capable of not only giving credit where credit is due, but having the humbleness to do so.
“If you want happiness for an hour-take a nap. If you want happiness for a day-go fishing. If you want happiness for a year-inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime-help someone else.”-Chinese proverb
THANKFUL FOR SETBACKS
“Express gratitude even for adversity, obstacles, and bad people. Working through such difficulties is a necessary part of training.”-Morihei Ueshiba
In a society that thirsts for nothing but victory, in an age where we all must be winners, it is a rare feat to appreciate and even be thankful for the setbacks that we all must inevitably suffer.
Because setbacks help us more than we know. Setbacks are what test our mental mettle. They are what separate the true believer from the fair-weather fraud. They allow us to explore other options. They alter our course and as a result, many of us end up at a new destination which can be life changing and even society changing. History is littered with examples. Here are a few of my personal favorite.
Zeno of Citium was a wealthy merchant in the ancient world. Having survived a shipwreck, he visited a bookseller in Athens and discovered a book on Socrates. This led him to found the Stoic school of philosophy, which influenced Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, whose books continue to influence millions of people in the modern age. Zeno is said to have quipped “Now that I've suffered shipwreck, I'm on a good journey,”
Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung (who I often quote throughout YouTopian Journey), had aspirations of being an archeologist. Yet his family could only afford to send him to a local university which didn’t teach archeology. Jung then decided to study psychiatry and medicine.
One of the greatest minds of the twentieth century who made contributions to fields of psychiatry, anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy, psychology, and religious studies.
Albert Einstein spent two painful years after graduation trying to find a teaching post. However, he was only able to secure a lowly job at a Swiss patent office as an assistant examiner, a job far beneath his intellect and abilities. However, it was during this time that Einstein began to formulate his theories that would eventually change the world.
Setbacks are needed. We need small setbacks in order to make giant leaps forward. It is all part of the process.
The slow growth.
The storms that set us off course.
The people that belittle us.
The arguments we have with ourselves.
The battles that we fight which no one can see and that few ever realize.
We must all deal with this.
It is essential for becoming who we desire to be and accomplishing our goals.
Our setbacks are what make us great. They force us into new and unknown territory. They cause us to meet new people, sail new seas, and think differently and independently in a world that is plagued by groupthink. This is frightening to the multitude, who cling to the familiar and are planted firmly in their own comfort zone. To them, a setback is one of the worst things that could possibly happen. To them, a setback is an unmaking of their career or at worst, their personal life. They can’t appreciate the genius that is awoken inside of them by the setback, they can only see the difficulty, pain, and anguish.
Do not think like this.
You are better than this.
You are more than this.
Appreciate that your setbacks can change you in ways that you never thought possible.
One day you will be grateful for them as they will have paved the way for the person you will have become, who you were always meant to be.
“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”-Sigmund Freud
THANKFUL FOR HOW FAR YOU HAVE COME
“Life is an experimental journey undertaken involuntarily. It is a journey of the spirit through the material world and, since it is the spirit that travels, it is the spirit that is experienced. That is why there exist contemplative souls who have lived more intensely, more widely, more tumultuously than others who have lived their lives purely externally.”― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
People often measure success by what they have achieved and what they gained. A trip to an exotic location here, a new car there, a promotion after a few years of hard work. However cool and fun these may appear, they are meaningless in comparison to the distance that one has traveled and the transformative nature of their actions. These are far more important and difficult to quantify.
Because success in any endeavor, regardless of the industry or geography, is not instantaneous. It is a difficult feat which social media has made to appear effortless and rapid. Those who are on the path know that this isn’t the case. They know the drudgery and grinding that is required to be victorious, but sadly, drudgery and grinding doesn’t sell.
The spoils of victory do.
You must not fall into this tempting trap.
What you accomplish as you move forward to your goals is far more valuable than any material good that those accomplishments may allow you to own. The path is difficult, which is why so many refuse to walk it. The path is dangerous, which is why so many cling to safety. The path is downright impossible to those who are not on it, so they refuse to even acknowledge those who are on their own.
But it is only through walking, climbing, striving, suffering, and moving to a self-chosen and self-appointed goal, that victory is possible.
Not victory over others or the physical and mental obstacles that will inevitably be in your way.
But victory over yourself. Victory over your anxieties and inner doubts, none of which would be possible had you not taken the first step. And the first step is the most difficult.
Yet as you walk, as you explore, as you uncover, new friends appear. New opportunities are discovered. New destinations materialize through the mists of misery and clouds of confusion.
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”-Martin Buber
None of this would exist without the commitment to undertake your own journey. Thus, you must be thankful for just how far you have come.
As the journey changes everything.
It changes your thought process.
It changes your motivation.
It changes your relationships.
And it changes yourself for the better. It shows you just how far you have traveled, even when everyone (including you for a time) thought it was impossible. It proves that no matter how low you started, you are still capable of achieving the greatest of heights. More importantly, unlike the material rewards, the boons that you have cultivated from the distance you have traveled will never depreciate or become obsolete.
They will be with you forever.
Be thankful for them, they are the result of you taking action toward something that you truly desired to do.
“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”-Winston Churchill
THANKFUL TO YOU
“If you're unable to reward, then make sure to thank.”-Arabian proverb
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for being here. Thank you for reading, commenting, sharing, subscribing, reaching out, following on Instagram and Twitter, and for being part of YouTopian Journey. What started as a pandemic project has grown into a fulfilling and rewarding early stage startup that is having an effect on readers around the world. YouTopian Journey has opened doors that I never thought possible. Even more rewarding, many readers are thinking, taking action, and beginning to undertake their own journey. We are over forty issues in and I doubt I would have made it this far without your support.
There is more YouTopian Journey coming. More new art, more collaborations, more topics that need to be covered, and more knowledge to help you awaken the greatness within and become mentally stronger. I hope to continue to serve you for years to come.
“The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.”-Jonas Salk
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I’m Shaun Gold and if you are reading this, you are already on your journey. Catch you next week.