It is November, and in the US, this is the month when we celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
Since I live in Japan, it’s easy for me to forget about this holiday because nobody has heard of it. Usually, after Halloween, it is straight to Christmas decorations. It makes me sad nobody knows about Thanksgiving or even mentions it. This is actually my favorite holiday. When I was younger and living with my family, I was usually the one in charge of cooking for the holiday. I liked being in the kitchen, prepping the food with my mother and sister. And of course, the best part was eating what we’ve cooked as a family. I love it.
All this nostalgia for home and the holidays made me think about the practice of gratitude: giving thanks for the things that we have.
Actually, I keep a gratitude journal. Everyday, I write five things I am grateful for. They don’t always have to be really big and lofty things. But on days when I feel really philosophical, I give thanks for the macro stuff: for example, living in a country where it is safe. I thank the gods that I can walk home unmolested everyday, without worrying about someone coming out to shoot me with a gun. Sometimes, too, I am grateful for little things that make my life a bit easier: a hot cup of coffee on a cold day.
I find that this practice of gratitude really helps me focus on my dreams of financial independence. When you are grateful for all you have, you want less things. That cute bag you passed by in the store? You forget all about it. You know what, I have a perfectly good bag sitting right beside me on my desk. Sometimes, you’re even so content that you realize you don’t need anything else to keep you happy.
It seems that being grateful keeps you focused on the positive things in life instead of being steeped in negativity. On tough days, I reframe the situation and learn to appreciate the life that I have. So maybe, I just got back from a hard day at work. Man, those kids really got on my nerves. But you know what, I am grateful for that paycheck I get every month. The fact that it actually gets deposited in my bank account is an amazing thing. It makes you feel grateful when you hear people living in other countries worrying about actually getting paid–despite already working those long hours. Again, I realize that I am lucky to be living in Japan, a country where things really run smoothly.
Keeping the gratitude journal really has been a great way for me to keep focused on my financial goals. I feel motivated to keep on working. I realize that I am in a position that many people all over the world would love to be in. I realize that millions, especially those living in a daily struggle, would envy the life I live.
I do feel rich when I focus on the many things that I am grateful for in my life. And by things, I also include my friends and family and the loving, support network that surround me.
And so, yes, I strive to become more financially stable and independent everyday, but I don’t want to lose sight of the many positive things in my life. To do that, I remain grateful.