I’m sure most of you have heard of the “My One Word” book and internet challenge by now.

According to the authors, Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen, instead of adopting New Year’s resolutions to address the changes you want to make this year, you should choose just ONE WORD.

One word which captures all your big plans for life and narrows them down into a single focus. One word that centers on your character and creates a vision for your future. One word to provide you with meaning, mission, passion, and purpose for the upcoming year. One word that represents the essence of who YOU want to be.

Since I have never been someone who put a lot of stock in the whole concept of New Year’s resolutions, this idea has a simplicity that appeals to me.

Over the past few days, I have actually given quite a bit of thought to what my word should be. It crystallized about five miles into my long run yesterday, about the same time as the snot from my nose.

Sorry to distract you with that visual, but . . . the word I choose is GRATITUDE!

(Aren’t you glad it wasn’t snot!)

Here’s why I picked GRATITUDE.

I think we all could admit that our lives are hectic at times and it’s easy to lose sight of what is truly important.

With the ups and downs of day-to-day life, our emotions can take us on a roller coaster ride. When life is going well and our expectations are met, we feel good. But when we lose focus and stumble off our path it’s hard not to let our frustrations get the best of us.

While I always do my best to stay positive and optimistic, this pattern happens for me as well. As a consequence, I plan to use gratitude as a tool this year to center my thinking.

When I really contemplate on the totality of my life, I realize just how much for which I have to be thankful.

I have a great job, live in a terrific house in a safe neighborhood, drive a decent car, have more clothes than I need, and never worry about where my next meal will come from.

More than this, I am extremely grateful for the people in my life. I love my wife and she loves me. Together, we raised five wonderful children who are self-sufficient and happy. Both sets of grandparents are still alive and relatively healthy. I have friends who are loyal, caring, and supportive. I work with colleagues who are highly competent, passionate, and positive. I have the incredible privilege to work in education and interact with kids on a daily basis.

As human beings, we all have imperfections and areas for growth, both personally and professionally. Accordingly, part of being grateful for the people in our lives is the acceptance of each others shortcomings, the need for grace, and the importance of empathy and compassion. This is an area I can grow.

Ultimately, I plan to use gratitude to provide the perspective needed to push through the inevitable challenges I will face over the next twelve months. I am hopeful that gratitude will also ensure adversity from my past is stripped of any power to negatively affect my future.

I believe in the old adage that our thoughts become our words, our words become our actions, our actions become our habits, and our habits become our character.

Therefore, my personal challenge will be transferring these thoughts and words about gratitude into actions and habits to reinforce my own character and disposition towards life.

I will start today to create rituals in my life to focus on thoughts of gratitude.

Moreover, in order to make an “attitude of gratitude” a habit, I have to ensure my gratitude is independent of my circumstances.

If my gratitude is only focused on the constant ebb and flow of life, I likely will be more grateful when things are going well than when life is difficult. So, I don’t want myself to use gratitude as a method of just trying to look on the bright side when things don’t go well.

I am grateful for the immeasurable blessings of my life. More than anything though, I am grateful for life itself.

Consider this.

When you get up tomorrow morning to return to work or school or whatever else you may have planned, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive–to breath, to think, to work, to play, to love.


Finally, I appreciate everyone who’s taken time to read, share, and discuss the words I have written in this blog over the past 30 months.

I am very grateful to all of you who’ve provided critical and constructive comments and feedback to help clarify my thinking, my work, and my priorities. I am better for it. Thank you!

Have a wonderful 2016!