Archive for November, 2017

There’s more abundance than you think

Most mental health professionals agree: It is difficult for a psychopathology – or any negative emotion – to coexist with gratitude.

Want to be happy? Be thankful. It’s easier said than done, but it’s not impossible.

We are not born thankful. We are born self-centered and appropriately so given that a child is completely vulnerable.

But as we age, we begin to understand what it takes to move us from completely vulnerable to warm, safe and well-fed. Triggers of thankfulness then prick our consciences.

“I didn’t do much to put these shoes on my feet or to put my bottom in this school chair,” the epiphany might go. “I should recognize the people who did.”

This is a generous serving of pumpkin-pie-in-the-sky. Children, much less teenagers, aren’t predisposed toward gratefulness.

At some point, though, most of realize we stand on the shoulders of others. We sit under the shade of trees we did not plant. We may bring home the bacon, but a butcher likely slaughtered it.

Life is too complex and lives are too interconnected to think we do anything alone. Thinking so turns isolation into loneliness. Loneliness turns to sadness and the other negative emotions: anger, fear, guilt, shame.

All of which can be helped by gratitude.

Show me a person who writes down three things each morning she is thankful for, and I’ll show you a person who weathers well the storms of life.

Her list may include:

A purple cloud

A fully stocked grocery

A check engine light that is not on

A friend’s smile

A healthy child

A faithful spouse

A door of opportunity

Indoor plumbing

Outdoor adventures

Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler are likely thankful people. Several years ago they wrote a book called “Abundance: The future is better than you think.” Its premise: media and information networks capitalize on gloom and doom news as a way to keep our attention and sell advertising.

According to the authors, the world is actually improving at a much faster rate than we realize. Artificial intelligence, robotics, technology networks, biotechnology and synthetic biology are driving advances that lift standards of living including among the world’s poorest people, the “bottom billion.”

Through the World Wide Web the poorest person in America today has access to more information than the President of the United States had just three decades ago. This access is driving a democratization of tools, Diamandis and Kotler assert.

An “explosion of connectedness” will have an Internet-enabled device in the hands of five billion people by 2020. A DIY (“do it yourself”) ethic is spreading. Exponential technologies have created a “techno-philanthropic” class that is attempting to outlive itself.

These factors work together to improve access to energy, water, nutrition, education and health.

Like pilgrims before us, we are living in an age of abundance – if we have eyes to see it. And the gratitude to appreciate it.

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star. Read more at


New dog breathes life and death

“She’s an ‘alpha female,’” the shelter director told us.

I had never heard the term before. I assumed it was similar to “queen bee” or “prima donna.”

Our kids, particularly a six-year-old boy, had hounded me for months for a new dog, pun definitely intended. He was too young to remember when we adopted Hank, our five-year-old lab mutt.

He was also too young to remember the thousands of dollars of property damage Hank inflicted upon my estate.

Okay, it may have been in the hundreds, but it was certainly more costly than any damage Pumpkin the cat has perpetrated.

So, naturally, the term “alpha female” sent chills up my spine. Just when Hank finally quit gnawing on furniture, toys and shoes, here comes a bitch.

“We got a new puppy,” I told a friend a few days after she arrived.

“You mean YOU got a new puppy,” he corrected as my head dropped under reality’s weight.

While the kids have struggled to take responsibility for her care and feeding, they did take ownership of her name. She’s “Lucy,” and, given the feistiness of Lucille Ball, that’s about right.

She’s only a foot high and two and a half feet long, but she can leap vertically to where her nose hits the knob of our back porch door. She can’t yet turn it, but give her a few months. She’s still only a puppy.

She actually shouldn’t get much bigger – her body, anyway. Her ears are another story.

She was sold to us as a red heeler, but we’re seeing more and more chihuahua in her, especially in her ears. They’re starting to pick up TV stations in Austin.

What they’re not picking up are my instructions to stop biting legs, jumping on houseguests, barking before dawn and urinating on freshly-cleaned carpets.

While I have wanted to return her multiple times, my wife sees redeeming qualities in hard-to-love mammals, yours truly included.

Whereas you can’t take Hank on a walk that includes the crossing of a bridge of any size (he must have been abused under a bridge before we adopted him), Lucy is a decent walking companion. I can see how heelers really do heel.

I can also see how Lucy could drag me into an oncoming Ford F350. Thank God for the parachute ears to slow her down.
Lucy has breathed life into Hank, the old eunuch. She nips on his neck and slips under his hind legs. He climbs on her back and wrestles her in the yard.

She eats his food. He doesn’t mind.

On the other paw, Lucy has breathed death into Pumpkin. She traps him under cars and runs him up trees. He sleeps on the front porch now.

As I’ve written in this space before, city ordinance says pets must be licensed. Hank and Pumpkin both have their $4 tags of approval. Lucy is unsanctioned.

I wonder what Pumpkin had on his mind when I saw him in front of animal services the other day. That tattle tail.

I have no idea who put him up to it. I love Lucy.

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