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Thanksgiving Reflections: Happiness Begins With Gratitude

Family celebrates Thanksgiving, sharing their gratitude for their ARMS child | Arizona Reproductive Medicine | Phoenix, AZ

Achieving happiness through gratitude

Forty-four years ago, while serving a two-year mission, I was walking down a dirt road in a very poor neighborhood in an otherwise beautify city called Puerto Varas in southern Chile. The homes were a mixture of wood, cardboard and corrugated metal. The only heating was from a wood burning stove, and if they had electricity, it only supplied a single light bulb and a radio.

As I walked, I watched the children playing in the street. They had an old bike wheel that they were rolling down the street with a stick. Others were playing soccer with a cloth bag stuffed with something and tied on one end pretending to be a soccer ball.

As I watched them I was struck with a realization that amazed me. They were happy! Here these kids did not even have “real toys” and they were happy. I remembered with embarrassment not many years earlier writing a letter to Santa explaining in great detail how I really needed a lite-brite (look it up).

Mindset of a fertility specialist

As a physician, I am trained to see what is wrong and try to fix it. If that is all you see, it is not a very healthy worldview (especially in a marriage 😊).

Today I reviewed our IVF success rates, and for new patients, our live birth rate is the highest it has ever been! It is 72.7% for age < 35 and greater than 50% through age 40!

When I started 31 years ago, rates were less than 25%. Back then, because success was rare, we seemed to celebrate more. Now when I get the pregnancy tests for the day, I focus on where we didn’t succeed rather than on where we did.

Choose gratitude

Every day I listen to news about what is wrong with the world.

Thank goodness for Thanksgiving! It is a chance to focus on what is good and be grateful for it. They say that happiness begins with gratitude. I wonder what the children playing on the dirt road in Chile were grateful for that made them so happy. Maybe it was not things. Maybe it was their friends, family and a chance to play.