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Being Grateful for Where I Am

Next week is Thanksgiving, and I think the older I get the more I am starting to understand gratitude.

When I started out doing improv in my 20s, I was so obsessed about becoming famous. So much so that it took all the fun out of it and affected my relationships. Fame was my higher power.

When friends of mine who I started out together in Chicago got success, I could not be happy for them. I took it personally, and went into a deep depression and was convinced I must be doing something wrong.

By the time I was in my 50s, my anger had turned into bitterness and jealousy, and I was ashamed to admit it, afraid what you would think of me.

It affected my marriage, too. Lauren would get annoyed about me about not being grateful for the things that were right in front of me, including our relationship. My life had never been better, and I could not see it.

Then Betsy was born, and after about six months, after we decided to keep her, things started to change. Before Betsy was born, other fathers would say to me: “Just wait. After she is born, she will change you.” I didn’t know what they meant. But they were right. It happened gradually.

I can’t even put the change into words, but the long and short of it is fatherhood did change me, for the better.

I am happier. Even Lauren noticed I can be easier to be around. She has said, “You don’t seem so obsessed with fame since Betsy was born.”

Thank God. I am not perfect. My desire to become famous still comes back occasionally, but today, I am far more grateful for what I have than I was in years past, and I am no closer to being famous. I would say that is progress.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Gift yourself a gift this holiday season. Sign up for Jimmy’s Two-Person Scene Tune-Up, happening Dec. 30! Only $79 if you register by Dec. 14. Sign up today!

The 5 Things I’m Most Grateful For

The best way to get more good stuff in your life is to be grateful for what you already have. All you have to do is physically get out a pen and paper and on a daily basis and write out the things you are grateful for. You can even call a friend and leave a message on their voicemail about the things you are grateful for. Yes, it is that simple; gratitude tends to build on itself. I am not speaking out of my ass here. I am speaking from experience. In fact, it has worked so well in my life that I stop doing it. You cannot get a better endorsement than that.

This morning I looked back at some of the Thanksgiving blogs I wrote in the past, and I am almost embarrassed by one I wrote two years ago where I asked the reader to list ten things you are grateful for, which in retrospect seems a little ambitious if you are new to this whole gratitude thing. I’m pretty impressed that I had a couple of brave people who wrote ten things they were grateful for in the comments. Thank you for that.

So this year, if you feel up to it, write as few or as many things you are grateful for in the comments below. Since I am asking you to do this, I guess I will lead by example, so here I go.

Wait. Before I go, I want to say that I have seen a new pattern emerge in my life that I want to share with you. If you have read this blog or listened to the podcast Improv Nerd, you know I measure my success and happiness by how much money is in my checking account or how close I am to achieving such a shallow goal as fame.

Yes, we all know how fucked up I am and how low my self-esteem can be, but I don’t want to focus on that for a second; I want to focus on the progress here. Today, when I think about what I am most grateful for, it’s people. For me, that is a fucking miracle.

Now, I will finally go:

  1. My Daughter
    When that little thing came out of her mother’s tummy, I was like “Shit, we made a huge mistake. She looks like a little angry old man.” I panicked. That panic lasted for over four months until Betsy began to smile, and now I am so in love with that drooly, little milk-soaked baby, I can’t tell you.
  1. Lauren
    I love her. My life has become so much bigger and fuller since I met her, and I have never experienced unconditional love from someone before like this. She believes in my talent when I think I am a piece of shit, she makes fun of me always wanting to kill myself, and she loves me despite the fact that I leave a spoon covered in humus on the counter every afternoon, which thankfully we have resolved in couples therapy.
  1. The Entire Staff of Improv Nerd
    I don’t how it happened — it has nothing to do with me – but I have an amazing crew that helps out with Improv Nerd. From Sam Bowers, the director of Improv Nerd who oversees the entire live production and deals with me, a demanding and passive-aggressive host, to Dan Schiffmacher, who produces the episodes and does an incredible job with our YouTube videos, to Joe Pisanzio and Joe Gallagher who also shoot video of the episodes. We’ve also added Marc Serlicttic as our sound engineer, Ian Geotz as our trusty intern, and, of course, Jessie Kunnath, as our photographer. I am forever grateful to this talented and dedicated staff who always have my back. Not to mention all the great people at FeralAudio, Stage 773 and The Second City Training Center who make everything happen.
  1. My Friends
    I have comedy friends. I have recovery friends. I have friends from two group therapies. I have friends that I don’t have a category for. These are the people who see my worth when I cannot see it. They talk me off the ledge and jump in front of me when I am trying to sabotage myself. Talking on the phone to my friends is truly one of the biggest joys of my life.
  1. You
    That is right. If you are reading this blog you are a fan of mine or you listen to the podcast, and chances are you are a current or former of student of mine or you have taken a workshop with me in the past. I am forever grateful to you for your continued support in my career. Thank you for making it possible.Want to sample Jimmy’s improv teaching? Sign up for the Art of Slow Comedy One-Day Workshop on Friday, Dec. 30. Early Bird Special ends Dec. 15!