If this isn’t nice, what is?

My Grandma Hannah raised seven kids on a midwestern farm during the depths of the Great Depression. She experienced poverty in a way that most of us can only barely comprehend.

Eventually she and my Grandpa saved up $800 to buy a house on a lake in rural Minnesota where they lived out their golden years. As a kid I remember sitting with her in that back yard, watching the sun set over the lake. She would take a sip of her drink, look out over the beautiful lake, and say “I wonder what the poor people are doing today?”

It was her way of saying that she felt filthy rich, even though she barely had two nickels to rub together her entire life. She had a great husband, seven great kids, a bunch of great grandkids, a beautiful sunset, a house, and a delicious drink. What more could anyone ask for?

I thought of this last night as I listened to my friend George stand up and talk to us at the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship about how important it is to take the time to recognize the riches that we have.

George quoted Kurt Vonnegut:

My Uncle Alex, who is up in Heaven now, one of the things he found objectionable about human beings was that they so rarely noticed it when times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in the shade of an apple tree in the summertime, and Uncle Alex would interrupt the conversation to say, “If this isn’t nice, what is?” So I hope that you will do the same for the rest of your lives. When things are going sweetly and peacefully, please pause a moment, and then say out loud, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”

Which is pretty much exactly what my Grandma Hannah used to say, sitting out there in the back yard of her $800 house, watching the sun set over the lake. So remember to always pause for a moment when things are good, and say these words. My Grandma Hannah will be proud of you.

I’m a Silicon Valley guy. I teach entrepreneurship at Stanford, coach startup CEO’s at Miller Center, and run the 4thly Startup Accelerator. Also, I love tacos.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store