I’m big on gratitude lists. The older I get, the more I understand that gratitude is essential to living a good, healthy life. Given my tendencies to compare myself to, well, pretty much everyone, this practice is much-needed. Maybe you can relate.
I write gratitude lists because of the need to remember life is so much better than I ever expected or deserved. There’s so much left to accomplish, but what’s happened thus far is pretty good, too.
Enough isn’t a number
For years, money seemed like the goal of all my ambitions. If I just had “enough,” then I would be set. But the more I acquired, the more it felt like I needed. I don’t think it was greed as much as it was this insecurity of never feeling like I was enough. You can really get addicted to that feeling if you’re not careful.
Anyway, I’ve realized there are so many more things that are better than money.
This year, I’m grateful for so much. But this past year has been a wakeup call for me regarding what really matters. About a year ago, I realized I was missing the mark in terms of my goals — I was striving for one thing when in reality I wanted something else. What did I want? Happiness. Peace of mind. Purpose. And money was not providing those things for me.
Here are 11 things I appreciate far more than money:
- Hugs and kisses from my kids, especially when they’re unsolicited. If you don’t have kids, you don’t know what you’re missing. Maybe find somebody’s else’s kids and let them hug you. Actually, that sounds kind of weird. Don’t do that.
- The satisfaction of a job well done. The joy of the work is the reward, the price of making something that’s never been made and doing it in a way that only you can do. That’s art.
- That look in the eyes of a person whose life has been changed by your work. Every time someone tells me something I made — a blog post, a podcast, a course, a book, a speech, an event — any of it, all of it — I remember this is why I do what I do. Impact is hard to measure, but its value exceeds any dollar amount.
- Friends who love you for who you are, not what you do.
- A good meal with great people in place that has a really good vibe. These are the moments you remember decades from now
- Seeing someone perform a piece of art live. This year, I saw Tom Petty play in concert just before he died. It reminded me to never miss seeing a band whose work I admire or have had the slightest curiosity about seeing at some point.
- Traveling to new and exotic places where you are required to re-orient yourself around whatever cultural practices are the norm. Change is good. Discomfort is good. New experiences are good.
- Going for long walks in no particular direction with no defined end. Not all who wander are lost, as Tolkien once wrote.
- Great coffee enjoyed in the very early morning, just before sunrise, while gazing out into your back yard or park or wherever.
- The freedom to do what you want when you want to do it without fear of judgment by others or concern that you “should” be doing something else.
- You. Whoever you are. If you’re reading this, you are more valuable than money. And I’m grateful for you.