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A Time for Thanks and Reflection

Einstein proved that time is relative to the observer. If that is true, then a year seems more and more like a day to me. 

In the blink of an eye, we are already at the beginning of the holiday season. 

I think it is appropriate that the first holiday for many of us is Thanksgiving. 

For much of America, it is a time of food, football and family. 

I would like to ask you to take a moment and focus on the THANKS part of Thanksgiving. 

I think it is the most important. 

We should each regularly take time to reflect on our numerous gifts and blessings. It is good for our health and good for our spirit. 

To do this requires us to slow down a little and dwell with gratitude on the gifts for which we are the most thankful. 

Let me give you a few facts to ponder as you bring gratitude into your focus. 

It has been determined that the odds against any one of us being alive as ourselves is 10²,⁶⁴⁰,⁰⁰⁰

That is 10x10x10x10…2,640,000 times. 

Even for the non-math lovers, that is a remarkably huge number. 

In comparison, the total number of atoms (the building blocks of everything we see) is 1080 . 

Statistically, there is no possibility that we can be alive as us. But, here we are!

Add this to the separate realization that any shift in the composition of our universe from the big bang as little as 1 one-trillionth part would have made life on earth impossible. 

Einstein said, “There are two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything’s a miracle.”  

We should choose the latter, because everything is a miracle. 

Once we adopt this mindset, we start to see each other, our planet and our lives differently. With joy and reverence. With wonder and curiosity. With gratitude and thanks. 

While most of us can say our eyes have been open for most of our lives, almost no one really sees what is right in front of us. 

The miracles in our life. 

The miracle that is our life. 

This is the reason, I believe, that people surviving life-threatening illness are more statistically happy than people who win the lottery. 

No amount of money, no position of power, no amount of fame can substitute for the way we see ourselves in our lives. 

Let’s be grateful. 

A picture of hand-made turkeys.

For ourselves. For the others most dear to us. For a beautiful (fill in the blank…fall, winter, spring or summer) day. For beauty. For love. For family. For hope. For curiosity. For learning. 

We all need to go a little slower to go faster.

In this holiday season, I am thankful for you. 

For your service. For your hearts. For your caring. For your excellence. For your friendship. 

For your commitment to WVU, WVU Medicine and to West Virginia. 

Woody Allen said that “change is inevitable, except from vending machines.” 

It is a privilege to work with each of you at a time of transformational change. 

For our world. For our country. For our state. For our university. 

I really like the Sufi poet Rumi, who said, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

In my reflection of thanks, I will leave you with one of my favorite Gandhi quotes. 

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”