Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gratitude 2012 Edition

Hi all.  This is our annual Thanksgiving / Unthanksgiving / National Day Of Mourning post, where we take some time to focus on something that is too often overlooked: gratitude.

So one of the authors Monkey reads, Chris Guillebeau, wrote a great post based on the writing of a 14th-Century Sufi poet named Hafiz.  In it, Chris talks about the difference between dropping keys and building cages.

This post pretty much changed the way we think about life. We highly recommend reading it, but to sum it up, you can either build cages (kicking people down), or you can drop keys (empowering people).

If you're asking "Why help everyone else out and create more competition?" you're looking at this all wrong.  You can try to eliminate the competition and create a bunch of enemies, or you can help people out and build a League of Badasses.

So the obvious take-away is that you should be a Keydropper and help other out.  However, when you're in a mentality of lack, you often feel like you can't afford to give.  While we're not suggesting you give your last $5 bill to a homeless person when you're struggling with paying your rent, we're talking about being grateful for all the good things going on and giving away stuff that you can afford.


In life, we can focus on stuff like being hundreds of thousands in student loan and credit card debt.  We could focus on our crazy families, or on how life wasn't fair because of XYZ.  We can focus on low balance bank accounts, or the calls from collection agencies.  We can focus on the messy desks, the smelly buses, the lack of recognition, the lack of XYZ.  We can live in a world that's lacking...happiness.  Or, we can change our mindset.

We can focus on the humble roof over our heads.  The friends we have.  The fact that we don't have to worry about drone attacks or airstrikes killing us or our loved ones.  We can be grateful for the fact that we even have the opportunity to chase our dreams (however improbable or realistic they might be), and that we always have a choice of how to live our lives. We have the internet!  By framing our own worlds in a lens of gratitude, we can feel empowered ourselves.  We can then afford to drop keys.

If you're sad because you only sold a few items at a craft fair, you're not realizing that people just paid money for your work.  If you are bummed because you just had a breakup, you're not realizing that it's better to find out that you weren't going to work out now rather than twenty years from now.  While we're not advocating that you sugar-coat everything and just lead some blindly optimistic life, you do have to put things into perspective.  Failure is rarely fatal, and the human spirit is surprisingly resilient - after all, you're still here reading this, dreaming of achieving greatness in what you love.  What you fear probably isn't as terrible as you might think.  Learn from your mistakes, and press on.


By living with a lens of gratitude, we can afford to drop keys.  Mentor someone who asks for help.  Connect friends who you think could mutually benefit from knowing each other.  When someone offers advice, give it.  There are a lot of things you can do for other people that don't require the loss of your own assets.

Just remember that while you can drop as many keys as you want, people still have to open their own cages, and that's not something you can force upon them (because then, you're really doing it for yourself and not for them).  We know it's hard, especially when your own world can look bleak, but if you constantly try to give, you'll find that people will want to give in return.

We have personally found that the more keys you give, the more you get.  So this Thursday, take time to reflect on all the good stuff that you do have, and think about how you can drop some keys.

PS - For all you artists out there who want to make a living off your work - Monkey has written a Marketing Guide for artists.  He usually sells his Marketing 101 for Artists: How to Sell Art Without Selling Out for $29, but in the spirit of dropping keys, we're doing a limited time (now through 11:59pm PST on Monday, Nov. 26th) offer of the guide for just $4.99 (aka more than 80% off).

If you want the guide, make sure you get it while it's on sale and go through this special link (that will vanish soon).