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So there I was yesterday morning, just going about my business and planning my day out. My to do list, like most of yours, is about 30 things deep and I’m constantly struggling to keep up with all the things I need think I have to do.

I had an appointment with one of my personal training clients, who I have been working with for about a month now. Now this is a client who struggles with depression and each day seems to be very difficult for her to motivate herself to do much of anything.

Well yesterday she was particularly negative and I knew we weren’t going to make much progress if something didn’t change. So I stopped her workout and asked her 2 simple questions:

  1. Can you tell me three positive things that you have going on in your life?
  2. Can you tell me one positive thing about yourself?

It took her almost a full minute to answer the second question and I was floored. How sad is this I thought that this person has such little self worth that she is struggling to find a single redeeming quality about herself.

I should note that this is a bright, well educated, and successful woman.

She went on to explain why she felt she was so negative and felt like her life was so vapid and unfulfilling. I will not share the details of what she told me, but it was heartbreaking. From a difficult childhood, to a highly turbulent marriage, to having ungrateful and spiteful children, she is at her wit’s end and has just about given up.

A Different Perspective

As I listened and tried to process her remarkable story of hardship, I felt helpless and overcome with sadness. Here is a wonderful person who, because she has had such lousy things happen to her in her life, is on the verge of an emotional collapse.

All the bullshit that I tell myself is holding me back from what I want in life seemed so inconsequential at that moment. My challenges in life are a fraction of what this woman is coping with and I felt very selfish about how easy I have it and how I have taken so much for granted.

Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Half-Empty-Glass-of-Water

 

I realized then that I have been taking my personal situation for granted. Sure, I have a lot of shit going on, some good, some bad, but in the grand scheme of things, I have a frickin cakewalk.

Over the past few months, I have gone through a tremendous amount of change and have realized just how much I have been focusing inward. It’s been all about me. How do I quit my job? How do I find a happier place? How can I make money doing something I love? How will I stay positive? How will I get through this divorce?

And while I know it’s important to focus on these issues, especially since I am in the middle of turning my life around, I have failed to appreciate all that I already have.

I’ve always been a half glass empty person and have always wanted more. I’ve never been content with what I had. As a kid, when I had an Atari, I wanted a Nintendo. When I had a Nintendo, I wanted a Sega Genesis. When I had a Genesis, I wanted a PlayStation.

As an adult, when I had a job as a bartender, I wanted to be a stockbroker. When I got a job as a junior stockbroker, I wanted to be a financial advisor. When I became a financial advisor, I wanted to be a fitness director. When I became a fitness director, I wanted to be a writer.

I don’t know if this is me being ungrateful or just refusing to settle for anything less than what I deserve, but in either case, I want to become a more grateful person.

So Here Are 5 Reasons Not To Be An Ungrateful Bastard:

  1. I have my freedom. And I don’t mean in the broad sense of the word. Yes, we in the Western world, have freedom, but what I’m referring to is personal freedom. Think about the battered woman who feels completely trapped by her abusive husband. She fears for her life every moment. That’s not freedom. I’ve never had to deal with those issues, but for the millions of women (and a few men), they feel trapped, alone, and paralyzed by fear.
  2. I have ambition. Unfortunately, many people lose their natural drive to succeed or become better due to external forces. An unsupportive spouse, a critical boss, a soul draining job, being overweight, lacking self esteem, failing too often, or being pessimistic are all things that can and will suck your ambition from you. And without that, what hope do we have to achieve happiness or our personal best. Zero.
  3. I have hope. Honestly, hope is what keeps me going. For years in my past career, I had hope that I would be free from the constraints of my cubicle. I knew it would come because I wouldn’t not let it. Of course it took me 11 years to get out, but I did it. I wake up with hope each day and know that my life is what I make of it. Without hope, we cannot see the future in a positive light.
  4. I have high expectations. After years of being beaten down, living with bad relationships, and settling for sub par jobs, it’s easy to have low or no expectations of people and/or ourselves. When we expect nothing, we get nothing. I expect great things to happen and I work on making them happen every day. Expectations come from our experiences and if they are negative ones, we will learn to expect just that.
  5. I believe in people. Spending much of your life with and around bad people will destroy your faith in humanity. We come to view people as inherently bad, dishonest and unjust. How can we expect to grown as a person and be happy when the number one factor in our happiness is our relationships with other people? I realize that the key to success will come from a direct result of my personal and business relationships.

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Over the past 10 years, I have constantly told myself that once I get my life in order, I’ll start making time for others, be more thankful, and begin helping people on a grander scale.

Does this sound familiar?

There’s only one issue; that day will never come. Unless we make it come.

As we start working on our own personal growth, and especially if you’re a personal growth junkie like me, we will never be content with where we are. There will always be another step to take and another thing to learn.

And I’m all for continual growth and actually think it’s essential for those who truly want more out of life.

What I’m talking about is taking a look at the lives of others from their point of view, taking stock of what we already possess, and realizing that our lives are much better than we actually thought.

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