By Dwayne Clark, CEO on November 26, 2008 11:45 AM

I was visiting with a very close friend and mentor the other day and I was lamenting about the economy and everything going on in the world. After about ten minutes of griping about the stock market, credit crunch, war, taxes and where our country is going, he stopped me and said: “Are you happy with your life.”

I was stunned at this question. I responded that I was not only happy with my life – I was ecstatic about my life. He then asked me what things I was ECSTATIC about in my life and he overemphasized the word “ECSTATIC” for effect. “Hmmm” I thought: Why was he asking me this question? Isn’t it overly obvious that I’m excited about my life? Could it be that he was interpreting my minor gripes as unhappiness about life?”

He then asked me a strange question: “How do you want to walk in this world?” My immediate thought was to make a smart comment like: “Well, I want to walk upright without my knees crackling and hurting.” Before I could get out a quick-witted comment he quickly added: “How do you want people to view you with your finite time on this planet? That is what I meant when I asked the question how do you want to walk in this world.” I wished he hadn’t used the word “finite” since I just turned 50 last Saturday and the word “finite” had been on my mind more then ever.

I thought about the question for a while before I spoke and my friend sat very patiently without speaking waiting for my response.

I thought about all the cool things I’ve been able to do and see in my life. I thought about my incredible children, Adam and Ashley. I thought about my amazing wife Terese, my mother who gave me so much and my wonder dog Zorro. I thought about my Aegis family and how lucky I am to have the life I have. With these thoughts in my head, I instantly went into gratitude mode. I told my friend I have many things I’m grateful about. As I spoke, my mindset changed from a complainer to one of being in total gratitude. I instantly viewed the world differently, and instead of focusing on how bad the economy is I focused on what I did have.

My mind then went to a trip I took to India earlier this year where Terese and I did some work in the slums of Mumbai. As we worked with the local people, we saw families living in 6′ x 8′ metal homes with no sewer, no lights and minimal cooking facilities. Amazingly, these people were some of the most incredibly happy people I have ever met in my life. When I asked a group of teens, who had befriended us, why they were so happy – they seemed puzzled by our question. Finally one young man, no more then fourteen years old, said: “We have so much to be happy for, look at my friends who are always here with me. One day I had no food and they gave me food. These shoes were given to me from my neighbor – I am a rich man.” This was an incredible leveling experience for me about life. Here was this incredibly poor man (by American standards) who thought he was rich. He taught me about what was important in life! Since I’ve been home, I get caught up in my busy life and I continue to need to be reminded of this lesson: It’s easy to forget.

I then answered my friend: “I want to walk with gratitude in my life, to be thankful for all the things I been able to do, for all the people who love me and all the experiences I have been privileged to have.”

He sat there again without saying anything and just smiled at me. He didn’t have to say anything as he was teaching me to “be” my actions and words. This simple question taught me that what I said was who I was going to become and that I must live my life in gratitude, for what I have, instead of for what I want.

My response to him was: “I get it!”

During this time of Thanksgiving, I want to let all of you know I am eternally grateful for all you do. I am proud of you and am happy with what we have today. My blessings go out to all of you and your family during this holiday.



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