Rightness and proclaiming "thanks"
This blog post is inspired by a diverse collection of sources. The overall theme, however, is the idea of "rightness". I have noticed this concept showing up in my life a lot lately, so I decided to share it here.
Recently, I watched a short video of Oprah giving a graduation speech. In the speech she discussed the typical life lessons on success, being true to yourself, and doing what's right. The parts on "rightness" stuck out to me. In her address, she listed a recipe of three ideas for being successful. First is knowing who you are and what you want. It's not enough to simply list the roles you play in life such as mother, father, daughter, son, employee, coach, teacher...the bigger question of answering who you are involves your connection to the world and its purpose.
The second idea involves finding a way to serve. She discusses not confusing being popular with a life of service. Being popular does not bring value to the world--your service is synonymous with significance, and it is your significant impacts in life that contribute to your success. Being well-known does not make a great leader; being a great leader means a life a servant leadership and living to the best of your convictions. When you live your best life, people notice, and your life of servitude becomes your legacy.
The last idea is conjecturing morality and to "always do what's right." She explains that you will always know what is right by what brings peace at the end of the day. She goes on to state that doing the right thing can sometimes result in a sense of doubt or imbalance with your peers if they don't agree with your choice. The reward itself is peace. Peace is how you know you are making the correct, right, choices.
That video resonated with me until I questioned how to define peaceful outcomes. Whether we look at the various philosophers of the ages that discuss finding positive outcomes for humanity, current examples like Oprah in the video, or even my current playlist where Lin-Manuel Miranda raps about Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr forming a "great and free nation." Alexander Hamilton, being a young scrapper who is eager and never stops working. Aaron Burr, the near opposite, is quaint and reserved, takes his time, and waits for opportune moments to make the right decision. Each one of these inspiring and thought-provoking leaders center around betterment and progression; an existence striving to exceed standards beyond ourselves.
Somewhere between listening to Oprah and reading Kant and Confucius, followed by listening to Aaron Burr sing about timing his choices, and Hamilton singing about being an orphan immigrant who takes every shot he has to succeed; Thanksgiving came to mind (and not because Benjamin Franklin tried to make the turkey our national bird). Oh Benjamin.
Perhaps I'm eager for the pies and parades, but this idea of giving thanks for the things we have resonated with everything I have been reading and listening to lately. It's pretty easy to give thanks for the items and outcomes we have in our lives, but those are things that inherently make us happy, yes? Striving for betterment involves stepping outside of self-consciousness and into connections--the more connected we are and the more successful our connections become, the more successful we will be. What are we doing to support an altruistic lifestyle in which we support ourselves and community? What if we need not be thankful for the food and family, but thankful for existential clarity?
Moreover, this Thanksgiving, when you are surrounded by the people that mean the most to you, I challenge you to consider what you are thankful for beyond the "stuff" that makes you happy, and how your giving of thanks contributes a virtuous and connected life.
While you're at it, you should absolutely listen to the Hamilton soundtrack for a bit of inspiration.