Sorry for the clickbaity title guys. You know there’s no free lunch, right?
None the less, I think there is a lot of value to be had in practising appreciation and gratitude. It can teach us humility and compassion, all good skills when it comes to dealing with other people.
It has been shown several times how seemingly simple gratitude can increase our happiness multiple times, even if nothing else changes in our life. So here’s to practising it.
Just a few weeks ago, we got hit up by a winter storm here where we live along the coast. There is nothing shocking or surprising about this, annual winter storms can hit us anything between zero (rare) to three or four times a season.
So we were enjoying the howling wind outside and the snow whipping everywhere. Our flat has these large panorama windows in the living room, so we could snuggle up on the couch with blankets and a cup of tea each, secure in the knowledge that the house we live in is a safe one, and warm because it is properly insulated.
How awesome is that? To have no fear of the elements that were tearing through the trees outside, because we have a safe and stable home?
The same thing hit me when I warmed up with a shower. How amazing is the invention of hot water at the crank of a handle? It’s only been around for a little over 100 years in a lot of the world, and yet we are so incredibly used to it.
In London, we spent over a week with a broken boiler. Our landlady did what she could to call around and have it fixed, but never the less, there we were, one week without hot water on tap.
Our dishes we could still manage by heating water in the kettle and pouring it into the sink, but showers were more difficult. I tried once to heat water on the stove and in the kettle, but it would cool down as soon as it hit the bath. Scrub-downs in the sink was the better option.
If you’ve ever been without hot water for any short amount of time, either on travels or because a boiler broke, you can imagine how happy and grateful we were when it was finally working again.
In relation to that, I remember listening to a podcast where they interviewed this woman who liked to rough it up when she went on holidays. Her theory was such that, if you went to expensive retorts and enjoyed a week or two in luxury, anything you came home to would seem like less.
On the other hand, if you went rough into the wilds with the bare minimum on your back, the normal you came home to would feel like luxuries by comparison. So she enjoyed that attitude for the rest of the year until she roughened it up again.
Taken in relation to our quest for financial independence, I think gratitude is a superpower.
By feeling grateful for what I’ve got, I lessen any need I might have had to replace or purchase new things. This saves us money, lowers our annual spend, and in turn shortens our path to FI.
See? It wasn’t just clickbait.
It is not something I will claim to have mastered, it is a continuous effort. But let me tell you, I am very grateful for the warm winter coat my grandmother gave me when the snow is whipping about my ears in the middle of winter. Never mind that it might not be a colour I would have chosen for myself. It is warm, and I will use it!
Are there times I wish I had a more aesthetically pleasing coat (by my standards)? Of course there is, especially when my friends show up in long, black, gorgeous creations. Am I going to spend money on that while I have a fully functional winter coat? No, most likely not. Our goals are more important than that.
That is not to say that I walk around feeling grateful and happy all the time. Far from it. Like everyone else, there are bad days and there are good days. Like any skill, it has to be practised regularly, or you won’t get any better at it. So don’t be frustrated if you keep forgetting, or it doesn’t seem to work in the beginning.
Just like any worthwhile investment, gratitude takes time.
I am grateful for a great many things. My friends, my partner, and because I have them now I try my best to be grateful for the life I had that led me to them. I’m grateful that I live in a country where education didn’t cripple me financially, even if it started me off with a negative net worth.
I don’t sit down every day with a journal to write down what I’m grateful for. I admire those that do. Then again, I am bad at daily journaling to begin with. But I do believe it is beneficial to take a step back and remind yourself of what you are grateful for from time to time. Even if it is from the selfish standpoint of increasing your own happiness.
Who cares? It is still practising gratitude.
In time and with practice, you might even find that the gratitude attitude (heh, rhymes) comes naturally, without the conscious thought of focusing on it.
So what are you grateful for? Let us know in the comments! Let’s make this world a little better by being outrageously grateful people.