Thanksgiving Faith and Joy

So it’s Thanksgiving,  time for another obligatory gratitude post. I know what I’m supposed to say here: how thankful I am and list off all the great things that happened to me this year. And then I’m supposed to remind everyone to be thankful and always keep an attitude of gratitude. And all of that is true! I am very thankful and I have had an amazingly wonderful year–so I am very grateful. While it had some low points, the high points far outnumbered them and I look back on this year with nothing but joy for the goodness of life.

But I’d like to offer you something a little different this year. I know that for me, resolutions to maintain an “Attitude of Gratitude” is like most of my New Years resolutions–I have the best intentions, but soon fall back into my old habits. Resolutions are well and good, but what is really needed is a life-changing transformation in attitude, not just a few random thoughts.

Years ago I read a famous quote from Albert Einstein that became a building block of a revolution in my life:

“The most important question you can ever ask is if the world is a friendly place.”    Albert Einstein

Of everything I’ve ever done in my entire life, the one thing that has brought me more peace, joy, and contentment than anything else, is deciding that the world was friendly. I view it as bringing an “Attitude of Gratitude” to life, I’m not just glad when good things happen, I expect them to happen.

Ask yourself this, “How do I see the world? Is it fundamentally trying to harm me or do me good? “ The answer to those questions determines every other attitude, and ultimately, every action of your entire life. But it’s not enough to just think about it, or have a casual opinion about it, no, we have to determine to do everything necessary to develop an attitude of a “This is a Friendly Universe!” deep in our heart.

Let me give you an example of the opposite of seeing the world as friendly. I recently published a video on going to Algodones, Mexico to get dental work and prescription drugs and eyeglasses. As soon as it went up there was a constant flow of fear-based questions and comments:

  • “Do you think those dentists are actual dentists or they just lying?
  • “I bet the medications are just placebos and not actual drugs at all!”
  • “If you go there, it’s a certainty you will be kidnapped and raped!”

All too often, that negative mindset of “most people are bad and trying to harm me” is the base mentality of our society. Basically, we begin with the assumption that the world is unfriendly and out to get us, and before long that attitude seeps deep down in our hearts and imprisons us in a life of fear. That Fear compels is to build a self-made castle with thick walls that creates an illusion of safety. Sadly, it quickly turns into a prison that traps us.

Squelch the Fear

It comes down to this choice, will you live a life of Faith and Hope, or a life of Fear? If you decide the universe is unfriendly and out to harm you, you will live a life of fear huddled in a prison in your heart of your own making. On the other hand, if you decide the world is safe and friendly you will have adopted an attitude of hope and love that will set you free to soar and give you the ability to become all you should be–all that you were born to become.

So my advice this Thanksgiving is to watch carefully for the attitude of your heart in your innermost being. And whenever you find an attitude of fear and unfriendliness squelch it. Instead, always strive to substitute an attitude of Hope and Faith in a friendly universe.

Build the Faith

I’m not suggesting you be stupid either. Bad luck does happen and there are bad things and bad people in the world  who intend to do you harm, so you must use common sense. Fortunately, a friendly universe placed a survival instinct inside you to protect you from harm. Our problem is that the constant voice of fear in our hearts and heads drowns out that voice. The solution is at the same time you are cultivating an attitude of faith and friendliness you must also develop and cultivate that inner intuition, knowing that it will keep you safe.

The two must work together–one without the other results in a very dangerous world. While cultivating an inner certainty that the world is safe and friendly, you must at the same time cultivate that inner voice that will guide you through the Minefield of life. By carefully listening to that voice you’ll hear when it says, “Don’t go this way,” or “Don’t trust that person.” and then you’ll see with your own eyes daily evidence that the universe cares for you and takes care of you. With every positive experience, it will be easier the next time to listen to and trust the inner voice to keep you safe.

Then you’ll find the world literally is a friendly place and you will have a heart constantly full of gratitude.

Sadly, we’ve done just the opposite, we’ve cultivated the attitude that everyone is bad so I will trust no one and everywhere is dangerous so I will go nowhere. That leaves no room in our lives for the inner voice to guide us, instead we take over by trusting  no one and going nowhere.

A Friendly Universe knows when and where there is danger lurking, and so it’s trying to warn you and keep you aware and alert to it. But instead of listening to that voice, we only hear a voice of doom, gloom, and destruction. That has only led to suffering and pain in our society in our lives.

So this Thanksgiving I would encourage all of you to develop two new attitudes, 1) of a Friendly Universe, and 2) an attitude that the universe will guide me through the hardships and troubles of life. And the two together will make your life better and richer than you can ever imagine! Your fear will be replaced by faith and hope, and your prison of fear will be replaced by freedom, movement, and joy.

My hope for you is that this Thanksgiving will mark the beginning of a whole new way of life.

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I've been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

51 comments on “Thanksgiving Faith and Joy
  1. Michele says:

    I truly do hope to cultivate more of this mindset…thanks for the reminder!

  2. Linda Sand says:

    That attitude is what let me go solo when my Dave stopped traveling. I simply knew that if I needed help with something, someone would appear. And it was true. When I damaged the cover to my electrical system, Phil found a way to protect it until a replacement arrived then he installed the replacement. That’s the type of help I got when I camped with you, Bob, and your friends. Thanks for bringing us all together.

  3. I resolved long ago not to do New Years’ resolutions. They shine and fade quickly. However, developing an “attitude of gratitude” is different. I have heard that idea repeatedly, from people I respect, and gradually set about doing it. I need not say how; you said it above.

    The only detail I can add is the difference between fear and prudence. I learned that from an AA publication called As Bill Sees It. Prudence is a rational middle ground between paralyzing fear on one hand and dangerous recklessness on the other. Thus, for my own example, I will not fear driving/traffic so much that I refuse to leave home at all, but I also will not drive when I’m too tired or sick. That approach expands to cover all of life, as you explained.

  4. Cindy says:

    So true Bob, our attitude and thoughts play a big part in how we perceive life. Great reminder about how to live. I watch you live your life this way.

  5. Rob says:

    Is the Universe out to get me? I don’t think the universe cares one way or the other if I live or die.

    I think the “most people are bad and are trying to hurt me” feeling is deep in our DNA. For the last 50 thousand years since mankind has left that small village in central Africa & spread out across the globe meeting strangers has been a risk. Walled cities were built for a reason.
    Things have gotten better for us over the last 100 years or so but the “strangers are a risk” DNA is still there.

    I remember when I was a kid, riding my bike all over the place with no worries, parents get arrested these days for letting the kids wonder about. Is our world that much worse these days? I think not, but public attitude (built by today’s ever present media) seems to say it is.

    What you’ve suggested here Bob sounds like a good way to deal with the question.

  6. Sharron says:

    AWESOME!!! Thanks for sharing and reminding.

  7. Patrise says:

    Thanks, Bob. Very wise words!

    “Trust God, but tie your camels” comes to mind – supposedly a Bedoin saying about having good faith but not being stupid.

    Years ago while in college I went to live in Scotland and immediately I noticed that Americans were suspicious, and assumed the worst about strangers. In Edinburgh as well as many small towns across the Highlands I was welcomed into people’s homes.

    The first time a family showed me my room (their guest bedroom), handed me the keys to their home and said “Cheerio!” as they headed out to do something, I was amazed.

    Long before the internet and ‘AirBnB’ there was a network by which ordinary folk shared a spare room with travelers, and as a young student short on funds I enjoyed it immensely.

    Assuming the best of the world is such a good place to start. It’s saved me from the worst ravages of my depressive disease.

  8. “Basically, we begin with the assumption that the world is unfriendly and out to get us, and before long that attitude seeps deep down in our hearts and imprisons us in a life of fear.”

    I don’t know. I think we started out as young kids assuming the world was friendly. Then different life experiences taught us whether that was true. Perhaps my outlook that the world is generally friendly is the product of my generally positive experiences. Maybe I was lucky.

    • Bob Bob says:

      I agree, kids generally view the world as friendly (although I’m sure there are some exceptions). I think it’s most societal training to be afraid.

  9. Melanie Mckay says:

    Beautiful post!

  10. Vanholio! says:

    At the risk of Bible thumpin’ …

    “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Mathew 10:16

    Innocent as a dove (see universe as friendly), wise as serpent (use your common sense, though) — Thanks for the reminder, Bob!

  11. This hit home. I do go out and do things even though I’m afraid, very afraid. I have come over the last decade to view the world as a dangerous, unfriendly place. I don’t like thinking this way, and it’s affected me profoundly for the worse. I do remember NOT feeling this way though, and maybe that, plus reading this, will help me start gaining some hope and trust back. Can’t ask for more.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Parker, remember that our society is devoted to creating that attitude in you. So even while you are working at the inner attitude, you will probably also need to cut off some of societies influence over you.

  12. Greg says:

    Einstein was a really really smart guy. What was his mindset behind that quote I wonder.

    Can the universe actually be friendly or unfriendly?

    Do we make it friendly by our thoughts and attitudes?

    Bob, I think you may be onto something 🙂

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thanks Greg, personally I think the Universe is a living being that can be friendly. But I suspect that Einstein saw it more as a placebo type thing. The attitude changed us, even if it did not change the Universe. Whichever one is right, it’s the best way to live!

  13. Greg says:

    Here’s a further quote from Einstein to explain what he meant by his quote.

    “For if we decide that the universe is an unfriendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to achieve safety and power by creating bigger walls to keep out the unfriendliness and bigger weapons to destroy all that which is unfriendly and I believe that we are getting to a place where technology is powerful enough that we may either completely isolate or destroy ourselves as well in this process.

    If we decide that the universe is neither friendly nor unfriendly and that God is essentially ‘playing dice with the universe’, then we are simply victims to the random toss of the dice and our lives have no real purpose or meaning.

    But if we decide that the universe is a friendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to create tools and models for understanding that universe. Because power and safety will come through understanding its workings and its motives.”

  14. MnDreamer says:

    Hi Bob- Thank you for a lovely reminder of having faith in the goodness of people and the inner strength we all possess, to call on when needed. I, too, believe these are the essentials of life and the tools we have to give ourselves a life well-lived. Your posts always inspire and encourage me, and I am thankful!

  15. Carol Joos says:

    Hi, Bob…the link to your YouTube channel doesn’t work. Help! I want to watch your videos!
    And thanks for all the information and inspiration.

  16. Doug V says:

    Thanks Bob. What I have found is that I must actively (many times a day) cultivate any new view I’ve decided to work on. Fear and worry were my hurdles.

    I learned a wonderful trick. When faced with fear ask myself “Is there a tiger in the room with me?”. As you stated true fear is a survival trait but most often I have irrational fear, rarely am I in the room with a tiger.

    Worry for me is a false tool I use on fear. I’ve come to the conclusion that worry produces nothing but mental anguish. It is a mental thorn I shove into my brain and tell myself I’m doing something productive. For me there are only 2 solutions to worry; take action or let it go (two new skills I get to learn).

    Thanks Bob for being there. Your words remind me I’m in charge of what goes on in my head. Life is wonderful and I’m so glad to be alive.

    • Lucy says:

      Doug. V, worry & fear can surely ruin our lives, it’s so good you have found the effective way to fight back those 2 unfriendly ghosts.
      Glad for you, Lucy.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Wow, Doug, that is really, truly brilliant thinking. Obviously, you are a thoughtful and honest person who has determined to live your very best life possible, it sounds like you are making very good progress toward it! I wish you the very best on your journey!

  17. Kathy says:

    Hi Bob! You said it very eloquently. I refuse to live in fear but I come across others who worry about everything trying to kill them (food, dentists, vehicles, others) and I just really feel like they could use your sensible words of wisdom. They would be so much happier in life.

    I enjoy living to enjoy life and all it has to offer instead of worrying about how and when I will die.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Kathy, you are very wise! For too many Americans, fear is like an evil and corroding thread woven through the very fabric of their lives, destroying it from within, leaving them very little hope of happiness, it’s very sad.

  18. Jane Doe says:

    Frankly most of this sounds like new-age psychobabble: the neediness of fantasizing some cosmic significance to ordinariness, the hubris of invoking the scope of “the universe” when one’s circle of light is really quite small.

    • Bob Bob says:

      I must not have communicated well, you aren’t changing the world, you are changing your attitude towards the world and your attitude makes you happier. That our lives are profoundly influenced by our attitude is not spooky or new age at all, I don’t see how anyone could see it as anything but common sense. Or at least that’s what Einstein thought.

      I am a spiritual person who believes in an intelligent designer that I describe as the “Universe” for lack of a better term. I fully understand if you reject spirituality, but I will offer you no apologies because I accept it. In all of human history, your’s is the tiny minority opinion and mine is the vast majority. If believing in an Intelligent Designer is Hubris, then that’s me.

  19. Have you considered the “Viking Birthday Dirge”?

    This last election has left me with more fear than my medical doctor.

    I sincerely needed this boost, More than one close friend has been released from hospitals post election, and they are recovering well.

    Sia sings “Cheap Thrills” “don’t need no money, I got you baby”. I am truly blessed by my friends, although we don’t see each other often, I am enriched by your existance.


  20. Joe in Homestead FL says:

    I’m looking forward to your new vlog, although I will miss the interviews on Enigmatic Nomadic. I wish you would leave them on youtube, but that is not my decision to make.

  21. Bill says:

    We will probably never meet but I truly hope that one day we will have a great conversation together .
    Going through Canada on your trips south must of had a positive effect on you, maybe

    Confucius said do not do to others that you do not want them to do to you and of course 500 years later Jesus said it in a positive way.

    I try to say yes more often than no, once we say no, we are at war.

    Be well

  22. Scott Odom says:


    Beautiful, well-thought out and well-intentioned post. I continue to be amazed and inspired by your work- you are truly making this world a better place, by helping to gently guide others towards a life of deeper meaning, greater connection, and more freedom. I have been the direct beneficiary of your work and I’m deeply, deeply grateful.

    Thank you for what you do, and for the integrity and courage with which you do it. I am so grateful for our friendship and connection in this life- miracles do happen- we just need to keep our eyes and our hearts open to them.

    Looking forward to seeing you at RTR and beyond.

    All best-


  23. Jeff Ammon says:

    I like to say, ” My Inner Child, filled with wonderment and love, is firmly in the driver’s seat, but riding shotgun is his ‘Big Badass Bro’, with one mission, to insure the happiness and success of his ‘lil bro.”

    • Bob Bob says:

      That’s a good saying Jeff!

      • Jeff Ammon says:

        And I don’t just say it, I really work at living it. Keeping my good and kind ‘Inner Child’ in the driver’s seat has payed off handsomely in incredible experiences everywhere I go. Also Toltec Wisdom and the concept of’Love Yourself’ (which I didn’t practice very well in the past) has been huge for me. And lastly let me thank you Bob, for the work you’ve done over the years, it’s aided me on my journey immensely. All the Best to You!

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