If you’ve spoken to me or read my blogs over the past year, you’ve likely noticed a trend. I talk a lot about fulfillment. It’s been my obsession lately, both personally and in my client coaching. The point is to understand what makes us truly happy.
Professionally, it allows me to better guide people in aligning their finances, goals, and happiness. If I can give better advice, I’ll elicit a more powerful response.
Personally, I’ve been on a journey. Generally, I’m a happy individual, so I wouldn’t say that’s my problem. I’ve wondered for years, however, why I can’t take it to the next level. Why, as hard as I try, do I find it difficult to appreciate all the miracles in my life as much as I should? I tend to only appreciate them when they’re gone.
This is something I realized years ago in my early twenties. I recall having a conversation with a lifelong friend. He had been diagnosed with lymphoma and had a rough road ahead (spoiler alert—he kicked cancer’s ass). During this tough time in his life, he and I were lucky enough to have regular phone calls. It wasn’t easy as we lived on opposite coasts. What I found remarkable was when I asked him how he was doing, his answer was almost always the same: “life is an amazing gift and I’m thankful for every single day.”
Astonishing. Here he was dealing with a difficult disease and he seemed to be happier than I was. He seemed to appreciate everything and was more thankful about the little things. Now I’m forever grateful he was so upbeat and even more so that he persevered. However, the thing that resonated with me was: Why not me? What was keeping me from the same fulfillment? How come it takes a life or death incident to truly appreciate every moment?
I have my health, a beautiful family, great friends, a successful business, and I get to do what I love for a living. I literally have everything 20-year-old Andrew dreamed of and a whole lot more.
Still, I struggle to treat every day as the gift that it is. Maybe it’s human nature to take the good for granted and harp on the bad. Perhaps that’s why the news is filled with crime and pessimism, rather than all the miracles the world produces every single day. As an aside I always thought there should be a news station called “Good News” that only reported on the positive side of things. I may not be the only one who suffers from this, but does that make it any better? How can we all be truly thankful for all the blessings? And, equally as important, how can we not let the little misfortunes poison our psyche?
These are the questions I ask myself on a regular basis. What can I do to challenge and elevate myself to be more appreciative? Because when I do, the net effect is a happier Andrew. The upshot of that is I’m a better father, friend, husband, partner, son, brother, and lifelong financial coach.
We read stories every single day that makes us realize the fragility of life. It doesn’t matter if you’re a regular Joe Schmo or one of the greatest basketball players of all time. The reality is at some point your luck runs out. Why not make the most of all the good and push away all the bad while you still can?
It’s funny, when I started to right this article, I was headed in a different direction. Then, I started rambling and it got me thinking. The good news is that I have at least one more blog in the bank now.
But seriously, when writing a blog, the experts say there should be a call to action when able. Let’s try one here. This is my personal challenge to you. Try being happier and more appreciative than you are today. This isn’t an indictment on where you are currently, but don’t you owe it to yourself, and those around you, to go up a notch?
The old saying is ‘progress not perfection.’ Challenge yourself. How will you make a more conscious effort to be more appreciative and happier?
For me, I put a sticky note on my work computer. It reads: “appreciate it all & smile.” What will your sticky note say?