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Like a lot of folks at this time of year, I’ve been think­ing a lot about grat­i­tude.

I have so much to be grate­ful for. Through lit­tle more than dumb luck and being in the right place at the right time, I’ve made a reward­ing and lucra­tive career from what was a tem­po­rary job. As a result, I have mate­r­i­al wealth beyond any­thing I could have hoped for as a young man. 

I’m sur­round­ed by pre­cious loved ones. The most won­der­ful, lov­ing, beau­ti­ful wife. Two amaz­ing sons. A daugh­ter-in-law. A grand­son. Two siblings. 

I nev­er wor­ry about food, shel­ter, or pay­ing the bills. That was­n’t always so, and it isn’t so for much of the world today. I try nev­er to for­get that.

Beyond all that, just the mir­a­cle of life — know­ing that noth­ing is promised, but that each day I have the health and strength to get out of bed and live a pro­duc­tive and hap­py life — is amaz­ing. May I nev­er take any of that for grant­ed.

There has been much research show­ing that a reg­u­lar prac­tice of grat­i­tude is ben­e­fi­cial to the prac­ti­tion­er and also to those around them. So I try to do this on a reg­u­lar basis. I do a jour­nal fair­ly con­sis­tent­ly, and a theme I often come back to is not­ing the things I’m thank­ful for. 

I’m not a reli­gious man. I don’t believe in gods or fate or any grand plan. So to whom should I express my gratitude? 

That’s the won­der­ful thing about grate­ful­ness — there does­n’t have to be any deity or cos­mic agent to thank. I have many peo­ple to thank for the life I enjoy. Besides the peo­ple clos­est to me, there are mil­lions I will nev­er meet who work every day to make life safe, com­fort­able, and hap­py for oth­er humans like me.

Modern life as we know it would be impos­si­ble with­out the soci­etal struc­tures and insti­tu­tions that allow us each to pur­sue our own voca­tions and avo­ca­tions, and the col­lec­tive fruits of our labor to increase the thriv­ing and pros­per­i­ty of all.

Just the act of acknowl­edg­ing that none of us can sus­tain life as we know it alone is an invalu­able gift. 

What are you thank­ful for?

  • Pete Koutoulas

    Pete is an IT pro­fes­sion­al work­ing in Lexington. Formerly of Campton, he and his wife have lived in Winchester since 2015. Pete is a for­mer week­ly news­pa­per pub­lish­er and for­mer colum­nist for the Winchester Sun. These days, when not work­ing he can often be found on his back porch read­ing or writ­ing, in the back­yard tend­ing to his toma­to plants, or put­ter­ing around in his garage or work­shop. Reach Pete at pete@wincitynews.org.