You woke up this morning – It’s an honor that many people are not given every single day. You might have to get up at 5 am and start working on a day that involves work, kids, responsibilities and all that adulthood stuff that you don’t always love, but you’re up. You are awake and you are on this planet for at least another day to do something amazing, wonderful and to change your life.
You’re going to work – Not everyone has a job. It might not be a big deal to those who can afford to stay home all the time, but it’s a big deal for a lot of people who recently lost their jobs, can’t find jobs and cannot afford to live. You have a job, even if you hate it. Even if it is the worst job in the world, you are earning an income and carving out your place in the world. That’s a pretty good place be in life.
You have a home – Whether it’s a mansion in the best neighborhood in town or a one-bedroom apartment not anywhere near where you’d love to live, you have a roof over your head. That’s not something to take for granted. There are thousands of people every single day who wonder whether or not they have a place to sleep that night. You are not one of them, and it’s a pretty good sign that you are doing all right in life.
You have money to pay your bills – I certainly do not love writing out checks every month to people for my house and my insurance and my cell phone, but I do it. And guess what? I do it with a bit of resigned satisfaction. Why? Because on the 1st of every month when the day comes to mail off all my expenses for the month, I can. I can write a check for my mortgage, my insurance, my cell phone, my credit card balance, my satellite, my OnStar payment, my trash pick-up and my kids’ school tuition. If you can pay your bills, you are doing pretty well even if you don’t have a ton of money left over after you do it. A friend of mine recently pointed out to me that we know we’ve made it when we pull up at a gas pump and pay for an entire tank of gas every single time while the pump read $3 before we began pumping. It’s a constant reminder that while we’re spending $60 to fill up our tanks every few days, some people are hoping that $3 worth of gas will get them where they need to go until they can afford a bit more.
You have nothing to do – You’ve been there; sitting on the couch watching copious amounts of Netflix and drinking another bottle of wine wishing you were doing something more fun. You’re doing something, even if it doesn’t seem like it. You have time to enjoy this kind of relaxation when so many people in the world cannot afford Netflix or wine or to spend any time sitting down doing absolutely nothing.
You just had another afternoon snack – We’ve all been there. We all have that cookie or that candy bar or that additional latte and then we promptly regret that decision. We hate that we keep shoving our faces without food. It’s not good for our diet. However, if you can eat anytime you want just because you can or because you have no willpower, you aren’t living a bad life. You’re living a pretty good life with additional food to eat at any time you choose.
You don’t think about where your next meal is coming from – Maybe you wonder which restaurant to visit or call for take-out, but you never wonder whether or not your next meal will be at dinnertime tonight or tomorrow, or the day after. You have meals every time you’re hungry, and that’s a pretty big sign that you are doing far better than you think.
You have to wait forever at the doctor’s office – You have insurance. You can afford to pay for insurance so that your family can stay healthy as long as possible. It’s not fun to wait, but you don’t have to walk up to the counter and wonder if your children will be given medication because you don’t have insurance. You don’t have to wonder if they will see you because you can’t pay for your visit. You have someone you can go to when you’re not feeling well, or when your kids are not feeling well.
You have nothing to wear – and a master bedroom covered in clothes that you absolutely hate. This means you have money for clothing and probably that you’re eating well since you probably hate everything you own because you ate a bit too much over the holidays and now you’re feeling a tad bit bloated. Even when you hate everything in your closet, you have options. There are some people who literally have the clothes on their back and that is it.
You have kids – You might wonder why you have them, but you have them. This means that you somehow managed to survive pregnancy, IVF, fertility issues, the expense of having babies, you probably have someone who loves you and you have someone who will always love you. You might not like your kids all the time – because they are kids and sometimes they suck (like that time they used the content of their diapers to paint the walls in the hall while you made their breakfast) but you have them and you now know what real love feels like.
You’re a failure – If you have never failed at anything, what have you learned? Oh, right, nothing. If you have failed in your life, you are a failure. Failures are the best people because they are the ones who really learn valuable life lessons. They are the ones who now know that they can do something better or differently. They are the ones who are one step closer to success. Being a failure is actually a pretty great thing to be so long as you don’t let it define you and you keep trying.
You have options – Perhaps you are torn between taking your kids on a mountain vacation where they can play in the snow, learn to ski and have a great time or for a few days in the Caribbean for Spring Break. The point is this; you have options. You might not be able to make a decision and you might be annoyed that you can’t do both, but you are going somewhere, and that’s a sign you’re doing pretty well with your life.
You own a home – It’s the American dream, you know. If you own a home, you are doing something that’s pretty awesome. You are building something for your family and your future, and you have something that is all your own. A home is a pretty awesome thing to have, and that is pretty much an accomplishment in and of itself.
You have family – So your mother-in-law habitually shows up a half hour before she is supposed to arrive and interrupts the time you need to get everyone and everything ready, and your father-in-law gives the kids extravagant gifts you hate, your parents want to come over for all the holidays and you have three other family members to visit during the holidays. It’s a problem and you really dread all that running around, but you’ve got family who loves you and wants to spend time with you; that’s a pretty big deal.
You’ve got goals – Maybe you are not where you want to be in life right now, but you’re working on it. You have the freedom to be where you want to be in life and to do what you want to do in life. You are in control of your own destiny and your own life, and that’s a big deal. You have goals, and something to work for. How is that for realizing you are in a place you never thought you’d be?
You’re tired – If you are getting enough sleep, sleeping in every morning, going to bed early at night and taking naps during the day and not doing anything that tires you throughout the day, your life actually kind of sucks. What do you have going on? You don’t have a job, you clearly don’t have friends or a career or a passion or a dream, or kids or a spouse or a family. So what do you have? Oh, nothing. If you’re tired, it’s because you are working hard and you are doing what you need to do to get through life as well as enjoy it. Being tired isn’t fun, but it means you’re probably living a fulfilling life.
You travel – You get to book a weekend trip to a city you’ve never been with friends, you get to rent a house on the beach, you get to take your kids to Disney whenever you want, you get to travel, whether it’s once or more than once every year. You get to travel. You get to see the world, experience new cultures and lifestyles and see things and experience things that others never get to experience. This is what I remind myself anytime our 1-year-old twins are crying or making us crazy on a flight – there are adults who have never been on a plane, out of the state in which they love and kids with parents who cannot afford to buy them a plane ticket. We’re doing pretty well in that situation.
You argue with people you love – If you sometimes have arguments with the people you love the most, it’s a good thing. It means you have people in your life who love you and want to spend time with you and want to be part of your life. It means they’re comfortable enough and care enough about you to call you on your crap and make sure you’re doing what you need to be doing. That’s not a problem.
You can’t decide between the Caramel Brulee Latte or the Salted Caramel Mocha – You have $5 extra dollars to spend on a fun coffee drink simply is not in the budget for many. I once listened to the woman in front of me at Starbucks ask for a cup of water after she realized that the coffee drink she wanted was $2.49. She thought it was $1.99, and when she realized it was not, she said that didn’t fit in her budget and asked for a cup of water – free water – instead. I ordered my venti holiday drink and happily drank it even though I spent more than $5. I didn’t have to wonder if I had enough for that and groceries or even just for the coffee.
You can pay it forward – You can do something nice for someone else because you can and want to. When that woman wanted a coffee that did not fit into her budget, my husband added a $10 gift card to our order and chased her down to give it to her. It wasn’t necessary or required, but it’s something that he felt was the right thing to do. It’s something that he will do anytime of the day for anyone who seems to need it or deserve it, because he’s that kind of person. If you can afford to pay it forward and you choose to pay it forward, you are doing far better than most of the people in the world. Many can afford it and choose not to, and others cannot afford it no matter how much they want to help.