Three quite unrelated events got me thinking about the common theme that runs through them. These are the sudden death of basketball great Kobe Bryant, Australia Day and getting a new phone.

I am not a follower of the NBA but know people who are. The achievements of Kobe Bryant are all but unparalleled in a game where superstars abound. His death at age 41 together with his 13-year-old daughter (one of four daughters) reminds us how life can change in an instant. His wife is now a widow and his three other daughters (the youngest less that a year old) are left without their father.

It also gives us pause to remember that each day around the world hundreds of people who we have never heard of die in traumatic circumstances, be it on the roads or from assaults. These people also leave behind families and friends.

Some years ago I came across the concept that the only limited resource we have in this life is time. Each of us has a finite number of minutes on this planet and we never can know (generally) when it may be our last.

Early in the week my laptop semi – died. I say semi because it did sort of spring back to life but will be at the repair shop for a fortnight. At weeks end the home button on the phone started to give out. This was a prompt to upgrade the now ancient (i.e. two years old) phone. The amount of ones existence that is now contained in our smart phones is both astounding and scary. Travel may see flights (including boarding passes) hotel and car bookings all in apps on ones phone. The days of printed tickets are finished.

This has all come about in the last 20 years and more so in the last decade. Has there ever been so much change in how we manage our lives than seen so far this century. Technology can be a curse but far more often it is a blessing and can make our lives much simpler.

My parents migrated to Australia from Europe and I am first generation. Having been fortunate enough to travel, I am yet to find a place that I would rather live. Australia Day celebrates modern Australia, which is amongst the most diverse countries on earth in terms of backgrounds of its people. Like every country and every civilization through history (and indeed like every person) there has been acts in the past which were wrong – especially when judged by todays standards of behavior.

However nobody alive today has to choose to take umbrage at events, which occurred before they were born. We can learn from them. We can decide not to repeat them. In contrast grievance keeps us locked in the past.

So what is the common theme? Gratitude. Increasing work shows that being grateful is good for our mental health and stress levels. When one considers that life can end suddenly we need to be grateful for each day we have  – especially when we can be with loved ones.

We grizzle about technology but in reality we should be grateful to live in an era when our lives can be connected and made easier by human progress. Not all is perfect but there has never been a better time to be alive.

And this particularly applies to my fellow countrymen (and women). Everyone and every country have its faults. Yet we should be grateful each day to live in what remains the lucky country.

Make practicing gratitude each day for what you have a focus for 2020 and beyond.