Be Grateful for Life’s Small Pleasures, but Dream Big

This is the 59h in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.


Most of us miss out on life’s big prizes.
The Pulitzer.
The Nobel.
Oscars.
Tonys.
Emmys.
But we’re all eligible for life’s small pleasures.
A pat on the back.
A kiss behind the ear.
A four-pound bass.
A full moon.
An empty parking space.
A crackling fire.
A great meal.
A glorious sunset.
Hot soup.
Cold beer.
Don’t fret about copping life’s grand awards.
Enjoy its tiny delights.
There are plenty for all of us.


I certainly agree with the importance of finding pleasure in simple things and I’ll add a few of my own to the list.

  • A beautiful sunrise (I’m more of a sunrise kind of guy as opposed to sunset).
  • A good book, movie, or musical.
  • Sitting on a porch during a thunderstorm.
  • Bruce Springsteen in concert.
  • The sound of children laughing.
  • A good workout.
  • No traffic.
  • A green smoothie.
  • A good brain teaser (as long as I can solve it!)
  • A day at the beach.

But at the same time that we can give gratitude for such basic pleasures, I think it is important to at least set your goals high so that you can perhaps achieve some of those big things in life.

Why not dream about winning a Nobel Prize or a Pulitzer?

Why not dream about winning an Olympic gold medal?

Or getting that job you really want?

Or making a difference?

Of course, it’s going to take a lot more than just dreaming to accomplish such lofty goals, but that’s a good place to start.

One of my dad’s, and one of my favorite songs as well, was The Impossible Dream from the Man of La Mancha. And I think the closing lines of that song expresses well what I am trying to say in this post:

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

In other words, Don Quixote wasn’t going to be satisfied with just finding a cold beer.

4 thoughts on “Be Grateful for Life’s Small Pleasures, but Dream Big

  1. I can’t find my copy of Gray Matter by the UT chairman, but I remember it well and loved it. So happy to have discovered your thoughts on each of the essays. Well done!

    A few essays now seem a little dated, but most hold up well these many years later.

    This one on The Little Things I had framed for several family members, but I’ve lost those too (I remember the line “a kiss behind the ear” made my late, great brother cringe they were so corny in an otherwise nice essay–so I cut them out and re-xeroxed it to exclude them before framing for him) still, I was happy to find the exact original words in your blog.

    1. I was happy that someone at UT was willing to send me a copy of all of the essays; I found out about the book that was a collection of the essays when I was nearly done my weekly blogs about the essays. The book had some interesting tidbits in it. They were classic ads, admittedly, some better than others. Glad you enjoyed them!

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