I am focusing on being more grateful in my everyday life. I’m sure that everyone has heard the Teddy Roosevelt quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Well, how do you counteract that? By being thankful for what you do have and not focusing on what you don’t have.
Right? Easier said than done I think. Especially right now with the rise of Instagram and other forms of social media. Every day we are bombarded with seemingly perfect images of those around us who are living the life we think we want. Instead of focusing on what we already have and what our personal goals are we start to feel inadequate, to develop an attitude of “why bother?” or we become envious. That’s not a great feeling. I’ve felt this way too. Friends of ours purchased a beautiful home and man, did I get the itch to start house hunting.
You know what it also did? It made me sit back and look around at my life and remember a few things:
- My husband and I have always been a bit ahead of our friends when it comes to major life events. We got married in 2007 and had our first child in 2010. Our friends? They got married in 2010 and bought their first house the same year.
- I quit my job to be a stay at home mom in 2011 and while I had a pretty sizable savings account at the time, I used those funds to pay off debt, to pay for preschool and to do a few other things. My friends both still work and make pretty decent incomes.
- We have 3 kids, they have 1.
- We bought our current house 4 years ago and we really like it. It’s 3 bedrooms but it fits our family and our lifestyle. Our friends previous house wasn’t really conducive to their lifestyle but their new house is.
Not only are these 4 points valid reasons for me to take stock in my current life but they also serve to remind me that my husband and I are in a different point in our journey than our friends.
There are definite benefits to where we live – we like our neighborhood (and most of our neighbors), we have a great community, great church, great school district and I personally really like my house. There are things I wouldn’t mind changing but for now, it really works well for our family. Listing out the reasons why I like where I live has helped me to stay “rational” and to be thankful for what I have. It also has helped me to stop the envy monster that threatened to creep in and steal the joy I have for my friends. Yes, they have a beautiful home but I am so thankful that I don’t have to clean it! Just sayin’.
So why do we need to have an attitude of gratitude? There are obvious relational benefits: you come across as a nicer person, you aren’t envious of your friends and are truly happy for them in their successes. Did you know there are even financial benefits? Could you imagine if my envy had caused me to list my home? Holy cow! I would have been out hundreds of thousands of dollars just to keep up with the Joneses. On a smaller scale people do this all the time – someone buys a new car so you buy a new car. Someone buys a new fridge, you buy a new stove. The comparison game is fierce but if you list out the reasons not to get a new car or to not get that new stove sometimes that’s helpful. But what’s really helpful? Thinking about what you have and where you want to be. Writing it out and keeping it where you can see it.
On my daily planner there is a spot for gratitude. I try to fill it in every single day with at least 3 things. If you follow Oprah, she says 5 things and if you follow Danelle Delgado then you know she’s a fan of 10 things but really if you keep track of at least one thing you are a grateful for every single day I think this really will help you in the long run not only to be a happier and more gracious person but also to be a wealthier person.