When you’re broke or you’re not earning much money, life can get pretty stressful and frustrating.
And I know because in 2010 I was broke and unemployed while living in one of the world’s most expensive cities – London.
I had enough to pay the bills, to buy some food, with a little bit leftover to go out for a couple of beers with my mates.
But literally just a couple of beers.
I felt like I had no choices and no options.
I was depressed, anxious and frustrated.
So I took some time to think. What do I actually need?
And I came to the realisation that my needs in life are pretty simple.
Air to breathe.
The love of my family and friends.
Clean water to drink and to wash.
Food on the table.
And a roof over my head.
And that everything else in life was just a bonus.
Now I’m not saying this is all I wanted.
Life is certainly more fun if you’re not living hand to mouth.
It’s fun when you can go out to eat, have a coffee or see a film at the cinema.
To buy some cool gadgets or go on holiday.
So YES I felt frustrated when I couldn’t have cool experiences or go on holidays.
YES I wanted to have more money so I didn’t have to worry about paying the bills. To have more money so I could have a little bit more fun.
But it was a great experience to go through because it taught me realise how fortunate I was, because even though I was broke with no job I still had the basics covered.
And as soon as I thought about what I actually needed, my whole perspective changed.
I didn’t need all the other stuff to be happy.
So many people would love to just have the basics covered.
Like a roof over their head, food on the table or to have some love in their life.
They would love to get frustrated because they can only afford a couple of beers with their friends.
So I learnt a valuable lesson in gratitude.
And I became grateful for what I had rather than focusing on what I didn’t have.
It wasn’t how I wanted things to be, but I was OK with how they were in that moment.
And in that moment I could be happy, I could be content.
But this experience in my life didn’t turn me into some sort of gratitude angel who doesn’t have moments when I act like a spoilt brat.
Because as much as I don’t like to admit it, I do from time to time.
But what this experience did for me in the years since, is to make sure I regularly check-in to appreciate what I have.
To be grateful, so I can stay grounded when I start to forget how fortunate I am to live the life I do.
To remember how fortunate I am to be where I’m at right now and where I started in life because it’s very easy to focus on all the things missing from our life. To moan and complain about how we want things to be.
Especially when we’ve been used to having them. And you can easily slip into thinking that you need to have X, Y or Z to be happy. and content.
But if you can be grateful for what you have, you can be happy right now.
You can be content.
It just takes a shift in perspective and a little dose of gratitude.