Memo From Michael: Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

There is always, always something to be thankful about.
Gratitude should be felt and experienced sincerely, expressed generously and received graciously.
If you want to be on speaking terms with happiness, learn the language of gratitude.

Michael Josephson turns 71 on December 10th. Please send him your personal greetings at and make a tax-deductible donation to the Josephson Institute in gratitude for his work at

There is something special about Thanksgiving week at my home. I host as much of my family who can come (all the married brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces have to trade off – one Thanksgiving at the Josephsons’ and one at someone else’s house). This year it will be a moderate 40 or so celebrants who will fill a massive rented tent in the backyard with raucous enthusiasm.

I know not everyone is crazy about such family gatherings, but for me,seeing all the generations together is a real joy. I have collected and posted vintage images of Thanksgiving and my favorite quotes about gratitude.

The older I get the more I come to think of gratitude not only as one of the most important virtues but as the true road to personal happiness. Gratitude is, of course, an attitude. But it is an attitude that does not come naturally for many people, including me. Sure, I spontaneously feel gratitude from time to time, but most of the time I take the things that are working in my life for granted and dwell on the stuff that is not going well.

Gratitude requires discipline and a self-conscious decision to identify all the things that justify authentic thankfulness. It’s a little bit like realizing if you want to be healthy and fit you have to watch what you eat.

I’m embarrassed that I find myself pre-occupied with the seemingly never-ending stress of fundraising that is an essential and unavoidable part of running a dynamic ambitious nonprofit organization. I should be focusing much more attention on how thankful I should be for the opportunity to pursue my dream – how many people get to do that?

This has been one of the most successful years ever in terms of mission – we reached about 8 million kids and their families, we expanded to Colombia and we launched the most comprehensive and effective version of student development strategy based on new comprehensive standards embracing academic, social, emotional and character development that has the potential to revolutionize our educational system. In addition we were given the opportunity to assess the ethical culture and practices of a huge global enterprise and help them develop a state of the art ethics program that could be a model for other companies. I’ve had the privilege of sharing my ideas with thousands of educators, public officials, police officers and parents – and I truly have loved every minute.

I am grateful for the many people who have allowed me to engage their minds and consciences and for the many who have supported my mission. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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