90 Things to be Grateful for

In his 10,000 Fists to Freedom post Aaron Potts challenges us all to make a 90 day commitment to achieving a goal. Not some ‘mamby pamby crap’, but something difficult, like losing 30-40 lbs. or gaining financial freedom.

His post got me thinking about what I have and what I want. And I discovered I have all the material things I want, my health and weight are good, my career is where I want it to be, my relationships are solid. So what goal should I set?

A couple of years ago, I was driving along and thinking about some depressing/negative crap when I looked up and saw a plain black billboard with yellow letters that said, “Be Grateful!” Reality will slap you in the face if you let it.

So yesterday as I remembered this event, I decided I needed to create a new habit… the habit of being grateful for what I have right now… being grateful every single day for life and it’s gifts.

I have a habit of allowing my thinking to slip back into negative patterns, so commitment to this goal will not be easy… not for me.

So here is how it works. Every day for the next 90 days, I am going to add one item to this post, for which I am grateful.

  1. Hot hazy summer mornings, when you can smell the energy of life in the air… in the air so thick the birds seem to swim.
  2. You… the reader, the visitor, and your time.
  3. Aaron Potts at Today is the Day – an inspiring man.
  4. My brother Paul Olson, a life long bricklayer, who decided to take the leap into entrepreneurship after reading Joe Vitale’s Life’s Missing Instruction Manual and the Attractor Factor – and invented a set of masonry tools that will increase the productivity of an experienced brick layer by 50% and dramaticaly increase the quality of a novice mason or bricklayer. His site went live this weekend. Good luck Paul! I wish you the best.
  5. John Wesley at Pickthebrain.com. He is doing a fantastic job with his blog. I learn so much from it.
  6. The Little Lemonade Tycoons in my yard today.

    They were there when I pulled up after work, and I rolled down the window and said, “I hope you’re givin’ me a cut.” Of course, I was kidding. But business was good – it was 92 degrees today, which is damn hot for Minnesota.
  7. Ozzy Osbourne. I know that may strike some of you as strange, but for me Ozzy is the epitome of ‘making a go of it’ against all odds. He grew up in a working class industrial slum in Birmingham UK. Ozzy says his childhood consisted of one pair of shoes, one pair of socks, no underwear, one pair of pants and one jacket. There would be a bucket at the end of the bed to urinate in, which sat there for months. Their beds never had clean sheets, and sometimes they used overcoats as bed sheets. Dirt floors, no running water.He was diagnosed with bi-polar in 1979, divorced, kicked out of Black Sabbath, depressed, addicted to drugs, and suicidal.Ozzy was a major inspiration in the darkest days of my youth, and without his words, I wonder if I could have made it.Lines I love: How many times
    Can they fill me with lies
    And I listen again
    Twisting the truth
    And they’re playin’ around with my head, O.K.
    The things they will do and the things they will say
    But they don’t really understand
    Tears fill my eyes when I hear all the cries
    For the reason today
    Won’t ever change, may think it’s strange
    I’m born to rock & roll, I’m here to stay,
    But the best line he ever wrote was…Maybe its not to late
    To learn how to love
    And forget how to hate
    Some time in my late twenties I realized… all the adults, like Tipper Gore, that thought Ozzy Osbourne’s music was driving the youth crazy, were wrong. We weren’t crazy because we listened to Ozzy, we listened to Ozzy because we were already crazy, and their institutions drove us crazy. He was our medicine.Whenever I see a bumper sticker that says “What Would Ozzy Do” my heart smiles.Read Ozzy’s own words at MSNBC. He’s absolutely real and I love him.
  8. The Internet. All my memories from before the internet are like black and white photos. My only sources of information were the public library, television, and newspapers – if it wasn’t covered, you didn’t know about it. Today, it is hard for me to imagine not having access to instant information and communication. If you look back and read the books written about Gen X coming of age in the early 90s, just before the internet, you will see a sense malaise and pessimism – the first American generation to have it worse than their parents, we were told. The Internet changed everything. In my neighborhood today, 70% of the adult’s careers are directly dependent on the internet. In 1996, I bought a 100mhz Pentium, for 800 bucks, and connected to AOL. Within six months my wife was making money on the internet. Within two years, we owned our own dot com corporation, and our reality was forever changed. If you came of age after the privatization of the internet, you have no idea how much it changed the world. But that’s okay, I understand, I took the telephone and automobile for granted.
  9. Thunderstorms
  10. My Neighbor. She had major surgery this spring (near her brain). I don’t want to be too specific, because I respect her privacy. But today, as she sat in the sun and enjoyed a beer while watching the children play, I thought – I am so happy for her and her family – she looks healthy and strong and on her way to full recovery. My neighbors are wonderful.
  11. My Father. Just a few things… Thanks for bringing me to the university as a child. To the astronomy room and thanks for enrolling me in university computer classes before most people had ever seen a computer. Thanks for letting me play in the oily dirt at the motocross track when I was 4 (without complaint), and thanks for stripping me down and hosing me off afterward – I love that memory. Dad, thanks for everything.
  12. Joe T Garcia’s Restaurant in Fort Worth Texas. I ate there on Monday night and it was one the best dining experiences of my life. So the next time you are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, eat at Joe T Garcia’s, and remember to sit outside, and experience an ambiance like nothing you have ever experienced before.
  13. My iPod. It makes flying much more enjoyable.
  14. Steve Pavlina. He’s made a huge impact on the blogosphere. I just wish he’d link to some of the bloggers he inspired.
  15. The 1980 American Olympic Hockey Team. Beating the USSR was analagoius to the Burnsville High School beating the Dallas Cowboys. One of my fondest memories.
  16. John Taylor Gatto – who’s writings have helped me understand the most confusing time of my life – school. It never seemed right, and it wasn’t, it was wrong. Thanks John.
  17. Reddit.com – the best social news site to date. Beats digg.com hands down in form and function.
  18. Hot summer nights in the park, waiting for the fireworks to begin, while the children run barefoot through the grass catching fireflies.
  19. Campfires.
  20. Charles W. Lindberg – He’s not the great aviator, he isn’t even related. Charles W. Lindberg is the last survivor of the six U.S. Marines who raised the first American flag over Iwo Jima during World War II, he died at 86. We are losing 1000 men a day who served in WW2. This great generation is passing and I am grateful for them. They fought tyranny.
  21. Typefaster Open Source Typing Tutorial Software. A wonderful piece of software, which has helped me increase my typing speed.
  22. Leo at Zen Habits. He’s created a phenomenal blog. He’s now guest blogging at copyblogger. Way to go Leo!
  23. Building cedar deck railings with my neighbor.
  24. Back when I was in school and we sang The Battle Hymn of the Children… No one was expelled and no one made federal case about it.
  25. Picnics on the bluffs of the Mississippi River watching the eagles soar and chasing dragonflies.
  26. Driving my neighbors Porsche 911. He was asking me to take corners faster and drop the clutch harder. I have a hard time beating on fine piece of machinery like that, even when the owner asks me to.
  27. America – and the freedom and liberty to originally stood for
  28. The flu- it reminded me how good it feels to be well
  29. Recovering from the flu.
  30. My oldest son turning 5 this week
  31. Giant Mazes at the University of Minnesota
  32. My youngest son pooped in the toilet today
  33. The birds singing outside my window this morning
  34. My son crawling in bed with us this morning
  35. The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles – you can get the free eBook here at Creating a Better Life
  36. Lifehacker.com linking to me today
  37. The Port of Excelsior on Lake Minnetonka – where I spent my Sunday morning with my family. Some say Mick Jagger was so inspired by a visit to this city he wrote, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
  38. Peter F. Drucker (RIP) – one of my favorite business writers. He coined the term “Knowledge Worker” and has written extensively on Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
  39. A friend of mine at work has a brother (who is also a husband and father) who has been unemployed for ten months. He found a job he loves recently. A job that is far better for him than his previous one. I am grateful it worked out so well. Sometimes things like layoffs or other apparent setbacks are blessings in disguise.
  40. My youngest son wore underwear for the first time tonight.
  41. Drawing mazes with my five year old son
  42. The opportunity to build a better tomorrow… today
  43. To work with such intelligent creative people
  44. During my morning commute I listened to Where Eagles Dare by Iron Maiden at about 150 decibels. What an inspiring way to start the day! Man! I feel like I could change the whole world! I know a lot of people don’t like that style of music and sometimes I wonder… Do they hear the same sounds I hear? I can’t understand how anybody could fail to be inspired by a song like that. I’ll condense the lyrics for you…No one should fly where eagles dare… no one should fly where eagles dare… They chose to fly where eagles dare.
  45. This blog is getting more traffic. It is finally starting to move forward again
  46. The Montessori School my sons will be attending
  47. The ability to control my thoughts
  48. The down comforters on my pillow top bed
  49. The Minnesota Loon. This weekend, I had three of them swimming ten feet away from my boat.
  50. Largemouth Bass. I caught a huge one on Beden Lake in Northern Minnesota this weekend.
  51. My two and five year olds both caught their first fish (Sunnies) last weekend.
  52. Dusk at the lake in Northern Minnesota when the surface of the water reflects the faint stars struggling shine in fading sun.
  53. My two year old was dry this morning. Potty training has been so easy with him.
  54. WHMH 101.7 in St. Cloud Minnesota. The greatest radio station in the world.
  55. My Five-year-old understands the importance of social skills. He gets it! I swear!
  56. The quiet ride home from the lakes. The ride up was insane loud and it gave dad a headache. The boys learned to quiet down on the way home.
  57. The Ice Cream Confectionery in Park Rapids MN.
  58. The Lupus foundation is coming to take a bunch of our stuff that did not sell in the garage sale.
  59. 90 degree days at the beach.
  60. Knowing that most of the things I am grateful for, cannot be purchased. They are experienced.
  61. A new Network of Bloggers – Lifemix. Looks like a great group.
  62. County fairs.
  63. Ice Cream.
  64. Playing video games with my five year old son. He gets so excited when I have a few minutes to play his favorite games with him.
  65. Hunter S. Thompson. What an exquisite writer.
  66. Wil Wheaton – I love his blog and his books.
  67. Pizza
  68. Mowing the lawn
  69. That my brother from Texas and his children are visiting us.
  70. My latest car repair was under 200 bucks. I haven’t had car payments in seven years and I want to keep it that way.
  71. Larson Auto Repair in Eagan Minnesota. They are honest mechanics. Now the city of Eagan is trying to run the out with eminent domain law and give their land to a condo developer. Larson is fighting them until the end. Go Jerry!
  72. Tiger Woods. I love to watch him play golf. He is an inspiration to our generation.
  73. Friends to pick me up from the car repair shop.
  74. Our Linux engineer who saved my butt this weekend.
  75. Our administrative assistant who notarized a personal document without charging me a cent.
  76. Codine cough syrup. It is the only stuff that works.
  77. Jim and Beth’s summer party. My family had a wonderful time.
  78. The rainfall that ended our drought. Everything is green again.
  79. My boss, my DBA, and my Linux administrator are coming back from China today. Man did I miss them.
  80. Wispy pink clouds slowly turning gray in the fading light of the day.
  81. They last hot days of a Minnesota summer
  82. My sons wonderful private Montessori school. He started last week. They own a farm he will help restore, they travel to the theater and play hockey. He has 45 minutes for Lunch, 45 Minutes of recess, and gym class everyday. I am so grateful we found that school for him.
  83. This present moment, right now.
  84. My bosses new swimming pool. He had our family over for a party and the kids had a ball in the pool.
  85. Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. Another pop culture icon who is absolutely real. I am grateful he is still alive and has a decent mind.
  86. Broccoli. I hated the stuff as a kid. But I love it now and so do my boys.
  87. Beer. I couldn’t have survived high school without it.
  88. The little fuzzy woodchuck who lives in our woods.
  89. Christine’s new Nightshade free diet appears to helping her arthritis.
  90. This list is finished!

22 thoughts on “90 Things to be Grateful for”

  1. Lovely!
    I keep a gratitude journal – not nearly as consistently as I’d like – but posting on my blog is a great idea!

    I look forward to reading yours too. I love your first one!

  2. Great thread. I like to join in the game too.

    I heard about gratitude many years back but did not practice it as I did not believe it can change my life.

    But I am proven wrong. This is the single most important thing that it can turn your life around almost immediately.

    Here is my true story

    Today the things I am grateful are about 20 items, include my parents, hubby, girl, boss, myself etc

  3. Steve,

    As I indicated in your comment on the 10,000 Fists to Freedom Challenge, your unyielding character is truly an inspiration. Most people who have most of the things that they want would just ignore a project like this completely.

    Not only have you done your part by spreading the word about the Challenge, but you have come up with the goal to pick up a habit that will benefit you and I’m sure many others as well.

    You lead by example, Steve, and I’d like to express my gratitude for that fact!

  4. This sounds like a plan. Maybe I’ll leave a comment every day for each of the things you are grateful for. Or better yet, we should post a comment on an item we are grateful for each day as you add one to your list. This way everyone visiting this blog will post what they are grateful for as well. This post with its comments could become one great list of things people are grateful for. As long as you dont mind.

    1. I am grateful for having three beautiful children – one daughter and two sons

  5. Husbandhood and everyone else,

    I encourage anyone and eveyone to join in the spirit of this post. Either post comments of the things you are grateful for or write your own post linking back here. Gratitude is fun and it is critical to success.

  6. Pingback: Today is that Day
  7. Steve

    I think this is a great idea. I realized a long time ago that attitudes, perceptions, and emotions are habits that can be controlled. If you spend all day being angry, it’s easier to stay angry. However, if you choose to look at things from a grateful perspective . . . well, you become a more grateful person, able to appreciate everything the amazing world around us has to offer. Keep this up. I look forward to seeing how this list grows, if you continue to share it.

  8. Steve…

    You have aptly demonstrated that gratitude is a learned habit, and given us a great example to following in learning it.

    Could we expect anything less from an Olson? 😀

  9. 6. I am grateful that I can walk, talk, see, hear, and use my hands
    7. ” ” ” that my wife had relatively easy pregnancies
    8. ” ” ” that my kids were all born healthy

  10. Steve, nice post, but I will have to come back and gather myself. I went to see karenlim’s link – and I cried after seeing the Opera Guy! I am not a crier – I can count the times that I have cried over anything on the fingers of one hand… I watched the Opera guy, and I thought I saw how people treated Jesus at one time… Nobody expected anything great out of Him, the onlookers could not hide their fascination,… mockery or whatever it was. (Probably with the exception of lack of confidence in Himself). I just got overwhelmed and I cried. I don’t know… I am reflecting on other times when I missed the face of God in other people, or when I hid the image of God in myself… so hard to explain.
    I guess that’s one thing I am thankful for. I will write about the things I am grateful for later and I will link here so that people can see this great stuff. Be blessed!

  11. I’m falling behind.
    9. David Schwartz and his incredible book “The Magic of Thinking Big”
    10. Dale Carnegie and his great book “How to Win Friends & Influence People”
    11. Windy days that allow for great kite flying
    12. Kayaking with my wife and kids on Peninsula Lake
    13. Sunscreen that protected my kids from getting some serious burns
    14. Sandy beaches
    15. Wonderful neighbors

  12. #7 really struck me. I had no idea that someone could be grateful for someone like Ozzy Osbourne. But if he’s something for you to be grateful for, then power to you. 🙂

  13. Solomon,

    I knew that would get people. But he is an icon to me. I think I would have been dead twenty years ago if it wasn’t for Ozzy. He brought me and many thousands of other kids through the deepest and darkest times of their lives. The reason you’ve heard of kids killing themselves listening to Ozzy, isn’t because Ozzy caused it. It’s because they are already hopeless, depressed, and self-destructive and they related to Ozzy. Is Ozzy crazy? Yes, that’s why crazy people love him.

    It’s the same reason only drunks are allowed in AA meetings. If you aren’t one… you just can’t possibly understand. For us, when we were kids, Ozzy was the old wise chubby guy that understood when no one else was listening. Everyone else was too busy to listen or too busy trying to fix us.

    Ozzy didn’t create his market – schools, churches, and corporations did.

  14. I am grateful for my beautiful family because it is so rare with the divorce rate. i have a strong black man for a husband, so the trend will continue.

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