Fact, Fiction, and the Path to Gratitude.


I’m really lucky. Truly, I am. I’ve had a haphazard career – well, three – that have peppered my life with brilliant bosses, golden opportunities, amazing colleagues and meaningful work. I’ve had adventure, passion and made a little money while doing it. My current job challenges and inspires me and I thank my lucky stars every day that I get to do it. You may be asking yourself, all right then, who the hell IS this person? And why can’t I find her TED talk, book, or blog? Well, I didn’t say that YOU would necessarily feel my career has been noteworthy. In fact, you might be googling me now and muttering a big “HUH?” as you read this. So, let’s look again.

I’m not doing what I set out to do after college – my plans included winning an Oscar by the time I was 30. I work for a startup where I wear multiple hats. I’m not setting the world on fire with my innovative thinking every single day – most days I’m project managing, digging into financial records or managing social media. I don’t make a ton of money and I live in a tiny house in an expensive city. I’m juggling multiple roles – mom, VP, wife, daughter, responsible human – and sometimes feel like I’m failing at one or all of them. Did I mention my long commute?

So which version of my story is true?

Truth is subjective. “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” said the sad Dane, and it’s true. It’s all in your perspective – and how you embrace and integrate the experiences in your life. Life can be imperfect and still be amazing. I can struggle with the mundane and still look across my office and be inspired by my whip-smart co-workers. So how do you find the good amidst the bad? How do you find balance with all the ups and downs and challenges that life brings? I don’t really know, but I have a few things I fall back on:

1.      Don’t Get Ahead of My Skis. When things are hard, I try to just let them be hard. When things are good, I try to stick with that too. I try not to get too far ahead of myself (I’m good at this) or look too far behind me.

2.      Pause and Breathe. When I feel like I don’t have enough or I’m not doing enough, I just stop. Literally. Whatever I’m doing, and I shut my eyes and breathe. Sometimes that’s enough and sometimes I have to physically interrupt my own script. Whether that’s taking a walk, chatting with a friend or just looking up my horoscope, I try to slow down, mix it up and see if I can gain a new perspective.

3.      Embrace the Impermanence. Everything changes. The good and the bad – none of it lasts forever. Remembering to do this helps me let go of the hard and really savor the good because in a minute it’ll change.

So which version of my story is true? Both. Both versions are true, and I AM one lucky son of a gun. I wouldn’t trade what I’m doing and where I’m doing it for anything in the world. I am so grateful for my work, the people in my life and the lessons I’m learning. It isn’t perfect (and I’m certainly not perfect in the living of it) but it’s MINE. It’s a reflection of all that I’ve done, all that I am and what I hope to be. And for that, I’m eternally grateful.


Aaryn Kopp is Head of Strategic Operations at 822 Group.

Aaryn Kopp