In my book, 365 Ways To Live Generously: Simple Habits for a Life That’s Good for You and for Others, there are 7 generosity habits. Each habit appears once per week giving you 52 chances to practice it throughout the year.
One of those habits is gratitude. Gratitude is a keystone habit whose good effects cascade through your life improving nearly every area: physical, emotional, spiritual, work, and personal relationships. You name it, gratitude helps.
Each daily entry also has a suggested practice that sometime includes journaling, because journaling is a wonderful way to connect with yourself (gratitude habit number 4) and gain insight and clarity into your own desires and patterns.
Below is an entry from the book, and following this entry are my own journal notes. If you want gratitude to be a daily part of your life, pop over to Amazon and buy your very own copy!
Day 84: Whose Shoulders Are You Standing On?
If I have seen further it is by standing on ye sholders of Giants.
—Isaac Newton, 1676 letter to Robert Hooke
The history of human civilization includes one advancement after another. From humble beginnings, we decorated our caves with finger paints and illuminated them with fire. Step by step, we moved out of the caves into cities. We learned how to elect political leaders, to mine and create metal tools, to use electricity, and to fly. Each discovery made possible by the one before it. Looking back, we can see our inexorable march toward a better world.
Isaac Newton, Marie Curie, and Albert Einstein were leaders in science, while Pablo Picasso, Jane Austen, and Michaelango led in the arts. Religious leaders like Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, and Mohammad and thought leaders like Leonardo da Vinci, Socrates, and
Avicenna lit the way. Invention, business, politics, social justice—in every field, there are men and women who have accomplished much. They’ve become giants, and they’ve helped shape thousands or millions of people who have followed behind them.
1. In your journal, consider the following questions: Who in history has made what you do possible, what you think possible and what you believe possible? What cultures and values in your society make it a better place to live? Who can you thank for that?
2. Take a moment to appreciate these people. Choose one and share the story of this person’s accomplishments with someone else.
I’m Standing on the Shoulders of Computer Programmers
As I’m writing this on a computer and will be transmitting this information to thousands of people I don’t know and have never met, it seems appropriate to acknowledge that this is only possible because of this amazing invention called the internet.
Looking back in history, we may be hard pressed to find any invention that has transformed our world quite as much. Computing by itself was a transformational invention. The first computers allowed scientists to calculate equations faster than humans could. Then they could process calculations most humans weren’t capable of. Then they could be used for word processing, storing data for quick retrieval, and they just kept getting more useful and powerful.
But there was a serious limitation to the power of these computers. They couldn’t share their information. They couldn’t collaborate. They were isolated.
The U.S. military wanted computers to be able to talk to each other — no matter where in the world they happened to be. First, they discovered how to get computers at Stanford and Yale to talk to each other by creating networks of fixed links between these geographically disbursed locations. But what about communicating with a soldier in the field who couldn’t connect to one of these fixed links? Being able to communicate with this soldier would mean safer and more successful missions.
In 1974, Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf published a rough draft of a computer language that would allow any computer to talk to any other. In 1976, seven men and one woman sat at a bar called Rossotti’s around a computer terminal. The message typed on the computer traveled down a pair of cables to the parking lot and into a big gray van.
An antenna on the van’s roof then transmitted these packets as radio signals. The signals radiated through the air to a repeater on a nearby mountain top, where they were amplified and rebroadcast. With this extra boost, they could make it all the way to Menlo Park, where an antenna at an office building received them.
It was here that the real magic began. Inside the office building, the incoming packets passed seamlessly from one network to another: from the packet radio network to Arpanet. To make this jump, the packets had to undergo a subtle metamorphosis. They had to change their form without changing their content. Think about water: it can be vapor, liquid or ice, but its chemical composition remains the same. This miraculous flexibility is a feature of the natural universe – which is lucky, because life depends on it.
The flexibility that the internet depends upon, by contrast, had to be engineered. And on that day in August, it enabled packets that had only existed as radio signals in a wireless network to become electrical signals in the wired network of Arpanet. Remarkably, this transformation preserved the data perfectly. The packets remained completely intact.
So intact, in fact, that they could travel another 3,000 miles to a computer in Boston and be reassembled into exactly the same message that was typed into the terminal at Rossotti’s. Source
And how things have changed! I have more information available to me at my fingertips than history’s brightest scientists could imagine. I have the ability to connect with anyone anywhere anytime. Each person now has the opportunity to be a scientist, a historian, a journalist, an author, a programmer, and an influencer based on what they can learn and do on the internet. Each person can contribute information and insight to any number of communities whether they be scientific, journalistic, or cultural.
Or they can use it to watch movies on Netflix. In any case, the internet is truly awesome, and I’m very grateful for it.