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Monk Notes 01 - ThanksBeing and ThanksDoing

For much of my professional working life, I defined myself and much of my worth on my output.

It's sincerely embarrassing to share that. It’s not pretty to look at really, and it’s especially difficult to share with 25,000+ people.

But it's important, because this deeply personal reality and experience is at the heart of why the Monk Manual exists. As I tried to work out how to be more productive, to accomplish all the things, I found myself increasingly more disconnected and distant from myself and others. It certainly didn’t make me any happier or fulfilled.

Just about a year ago I launched the Kickstarter for the Monk Manual. Since that time a number of people have asked me what I learned in the process of running a successful campaign.

The real story, which I haven’t shared publicly, is that what I learned had nothing to do with the Kickstarter itself. Just before the launch of the Kickstarter, my father was rushed to the hospital following a stroke; then the week before the end of the Kickstarter he passed away rather suddenly on the path to recovery.

It's not an exaggeration to say this experience demolished me in many ways. If you watch the starter guide videos you will actually see my eyes are puffy from all the tears I shed the days prior.

What struck me profoundly was that after I lost my father, what I was left with wasn't really any impression based on his "doings." Even the memories themselves, the various things we had done together, and the various conversations, these actions themselves seemed to fade away and all I really saw and felt was his being. His smile. His love. His heart.

We often think of our lives in a quantitative way. The number of things we do. The amount of people we help. The number of things we learn.

But my father’s death impressed on me something I had already been discovering through my research for the Monk Manual. And that is that our life is a qualitative life not a quantitative life.

As we gear up for Thanksgiving here in the states I am struck by the idea that the things we are often most grateful for have nothing to do with what others have done for us, and much more for what others have been to us. And what those we are blessed to have in our lives continue to be.

On behalf of everyone on the Monk Manual team I want to wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

All the best,

"A man watches his pear tree day after day, impatient for the ripening of the fruit. Let him attempt to force the process, and he may spoil both fruit and tree. But let him patiently wait, and the ripe pear at length falls into his lap." - Abraham Lincoln


Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful. -TEDGlobal

In this TED talk Br. David Steindl-Rast explains the deep connection between gratitude and happiness. I stumbled upon this video for the first time the night before launching the Monk Manual on Kickstarter and it's stuck with me. LINK

The Art of Family and Friend Conversations -LivingRoomConversations

Anytime you bring people together, the potential for connection increases. So does the potential for tension and discord. Here are a few simple tips on how to get the most out of family and friends gatherings over the coming months. LINK

The Benefits of Thanksgiving Rituals -USNews

Our modern culture is often suspicious of tradition. But often the reason our traditions become traditions is because on some level they work. They carry meaning, they bring about connection, and they help us understand our place in the world. LINK

Featured Art: "Undergrowth with Two Figures" Vincent Van Gogh