Gratitude and happiness
Nov 20, 2021, 5 min read
Nov 20, 2021
5 min read
Gratitude is something many of us reflect on this time of year, and I shared my perspective with our team today. For me, gratitude has been a learned behavior, and one that has allowed me to see every day as a pixel in the greater picture of life. Happy Thanksgiving!
Date: 2021–11–19 3pm ET
Subject: Happy Thanksgiving!
Next week is Thanksgiving, and I’m excited to take my first week off since the July break. Before I head out, I wanted to share a couple of thoughts on gratitude with you all.
Gratitude is something that took me a long time to appreciate. When you’re working in a hypergrowth company that talks about dreaming big and always growing into the best version of ourselves, it seems like we’re never satisfied with where we are now. In many ways this is true, but at the same time, I learned that it’s equally (if not more!) important to recognize how fortunate we are to be here today.
We often live our lives planning for the future, waiting for those big milestones that, once we finally hit, will make us truly happy. I often find myself thinking: “I just need to get Brex to X milestone,” “I just need to go on this trip,” or “I just need to find this type of partner,” and then I’ll be all set.
Over time, though, I realized that the happiness I had in mind never actually arrived — even after hitting all the milestones I dreamed of! If I could meet the Pedro of five years ago and tell him where my life is today, it would be hard for him to believe how fortunate I am. And yet, I didn’t truly feel happy in the present, because there was always something else to attain, which then would make me happy.
A few years ago, I came across a blog post that changed my perspective in life: Life is a picture, but you live in a pixel. “We often see our lives as a rich picture, depicting an epic story and assuming that the key to happiness lies in the big picture, the broad components of the image. But this is a mistake, because we don’t live in the picture’s broad strokes. We live at all times in a single pixel of the image — a single Today.”
“So while thousands of our Todays will, to an outsider from far away, begin to look like a complete picture, we spend each moment of our actual reality in one unremarkable Today pixel or another. Our error is brushing off our mundane Wednesday and focusing entirely on the big picture, when in fact the mundane Wednesday is the experience of our actual lives.”
There’s no big milestone, no magical day in which you’ll finally become happy. Happiness only exists in the present, in a Today pixel like any other. So how to be happy on a mundane Wednesday? A big part of the answer is gratitude. Just think how badly you wanted the things you have now, and thank the people who helped you get there…
- I am grateful for Henrique, my co-founder, life-long partner and best friend, who I had a pleasure to work and share a life with for the past nine years. Henrique changed my life in unimaginable ways, which I’m forever grateful for.
- I am grateful for each one of our employees, the most talented, smart, ambitious and hard working people out there, who decided Brex was a risk worth taking with their careers. I have a deep sense of gratitude when I remember that we have so many employees and families who decided to embark with us on this journey.
- I am grateful for our customers, who decided that Brex is a partner worth their trust with their money. Customers are the atoms of success for a business, and the entire reason why we’re here now. I feel grateful (and responsible!) for the trust they deposit on us, and I hope to never take it for granted.
- I am grateful for the original idea behind Brex. We did many things right, and a few things wrong, but building a corporate card for startups was so good of an idea that it carried us for many years, despite our mistakes.
- I am grateful to our investors, mentors and advisors, who trusted us when very few people did, and decided to put thousands of hours and so many dollars behind a crazy idea of two Brazilians.
- I am grateful for my direct team, and their unwavering level of commitment to making Brex successful, and all the invisible work they do to support me running the company. Henrique and I wouldn’t be here without LT, Katrina, Missy and Ben.
- I am grateful for my friends, who remind me that there’s an amazing life worth living outside of work, and make me feel a deep sense of belonging and connection, despite the stresses of my daily life. Friends are chosen family.
- I am grateful for my mental health, which right now is in a really good place, after some rough times this year. Being in peace inside your own head is one of the most important things in life, and one of the things that makes that mundane Wednesday worth it. I can’t thank enough my therapist, my friends and everyone who supported me in my journey with mental health this year.
There are many more things I’m grateful for which I forgot to mention, but simply writing this list made me feel more alive and happier.
Please take a moment this week to remember how badly you wanted the things you have today — not tomorrow, not next year, but right now. Tell the people who were a part of your journey how much they mean to you. And remember to enjoy each one of these moments, each of these Todays, before they become memories. That’s what life is all about.
Your life is a picture, but you live in a pixel. Make sure each pixel counts. :)