Tag Archives: Happiness

Reflection on Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday – quintessentially American, and celebrated nearly universally across what are often divides of age, ethnicity, religious background, income and region. Somehow Thanksgiving always renews my love of country and faith in its future.

This year, it also got me thinking about being truly thankful for good things, large and small, that surround all of us. It is easy, of course, to get caught up in the day to day, and to focus more on the annoyances and challenges each of us faces instead of on the joy or beauty. Maybe it is even basic human nature to do so. But a recent piece in the New York Times made a pretty compelling case that gratitude is a path to happiness. Conscious efforts directed at appreciating the good make us feel better, so that we can, in a sense, train ourselves to be happier.

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Over and Out

I highly recommend a provocative essay by Ezekial Emanuel that appears in the October 2014 issue of the Atlantic. Dr. Emanuel is a prominent academic who has also held important positions in government, including as a Special Advisor on Health Policy to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and National Economic Council. He is also the eldest of the three impressive “Emanuel Brothers” that also includes Rahm (former White House chief of staff and now mayor of Chicago) and Ari (a prominent Hollywood agent). His piece is entitled “Why I Hope to Die at 75.”

OK, so the title is a bit over the top and meant to shock, and it is not even entirely accurate. But the message is really worth thinking about. Emanuel sets out why he wants to avoid the typical American approach to aging and progressive infirmity; he does not want to join the ranks of what he refers to as “American immortals.” Instead, he says that when he hits the admittedly arbitrary age of 75, he will no longer actively seek to prolong his life. No more doctor visits, no more “preventive” measures, no more diagnostic tests, no more interventions. Done. Whatever happens after that, well, so be it.

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