You Never Looked At Gratitude Like This Before

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You Never Looked At Gratitude Like This Before

Did you have a great Thanksgiving?

You don’t have to worry about me lecturing you on how you should be thankful every day of the year. I know it’s hard to practice gratitude on a daily basis.

What I’m not grateful for this year is catching the cold on Thanksgiving day. That’s the second time I got sick in a single month. My last cold stayed for over a month.

Something interesting happened while I was ill though. I started having weird dreams and had that whole “Whew, glad that was just a dream!” thing going on.

So I asked myself, what do I have in my life right now that I would hate to wake up only to discover it was all a dream?

Imagine how scary it would be to wake up at this very moment to find that key parts of your life that you cherish were never real. That’s how I approached gratitude this year.

Here are some things that would drive me crazy if they turned out to be a dream:

My Relationships

Waking up and finding my family and friends weren’t really in my life would be the stuff of nightmares. It’d be like a Twilight Zone episode where you see the protagonist alone and shaken, slowly going crazy. “It felt so real! It all felt so… Real.” Then you see the screen start to blur and do that cloudy shake.

I take a lot of my relationships for granted (and I’m sure I’m not the only one.) Relationships don’t happen just because you want them to so they aren’t exactly the easiest thing to find.

Good friendships are difficult because you don’t just bond with anyone. It takes certain personalities and a number of common interests to become friends. I’m so grateful that I have amazing people in my life who I genuinely love being around.

Moving to Arizona worried me a bit at first because I felt like no one could replace the friends I had back home in California. I’m not saying either group of friends are better than the other, but I’ve definitely got amazing relationships in Arizona.

My first semester of college after moving was interesting because I talked to at least a few different strangers every day. It made me realize more than ever that connecting on a genuine level is tough. You would think that months of talking to different people would mean a solid group of people you get along with but that’s not the case.

Taking a relationship beyond the acquaintance stage isn’t easy. That’s why I’m grateful for all of my friends in both California and Arizona.

Specific Conversations

There have been conversations that completely shifted the way I thought.

My close friend discussing his entrepreneurial goals made me think that there was more to life than going to college, getting in debt, and slaving away at a job I hate. Where would I be now if not for our coffee shop brainstorming sessions?

Then there were the wakeup calls where I got much needed constructive criticism. For example, someone made me aware that parts of my writing was preachy or even irrelevant to certain audiences. Now I try to be conscious of how I write so I can make sure I can help someone out there in the best way possible.

Three years ago, I was having a moment of weakness where I felt I had nothing to contribute to the world. I was down and ready to live a mediocre life when a friend of mine said the simplest sentence that gave me the motivation I needed. All he said was, “You’re insightful.”

For some reason, his simple words snapped me out of it and made me realize I had value to offer. Never again did I torture myself.

The Birth of Self Stairway

This is the catalyst that led to almost everything good that happened this year. My internships, the valuable skills I’ve learned, and of course, my apprenticeship that has me out here in the Philippines.

Self Stairway allowed me to connect with amazing people and grow a community that genuinely cares about others. It gave me a platform to share my thoughts on the world help where I can.

That’s not something I take for granted and I’d be panicking if I woke up to realize this site was all a dream.

What would I even do if this were a dream? Would I be motivated and start the site over again? I have no idea. It’s scary to think about. Ahh! Make the scary thoughts go away!

If you’re reading this, thank you. I’m grateful to have you here.

And What About You?

I want to know what you’re grateful for. You knew it was coming.

What are some things in your life right now that you’d be horrified to wake up and realize it was just a dream?

It could be anything. You can even steal the answers that I used above if you’d like. This is a tough question and might take a while, but it’ll feel good once you write it out.

Share what it is in the comments below and have a great day.

Photo Credit: Erica Firment – Flickr

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway. After landing his dream job with Empire Flippers, he dropped out of college and began living a location independent lifestyle (still always drawn to coffee shops though.) Don't worry, he still publishes every Monday and hasn't missed a single week since starting this site in January 2013.

Latest posts by Vincent Nguyen (see all)

30 responses to You Never Looked At Gratitude Like This Before

  1. I am grateful for my awesome friends and family, for all the great travel experiences of these past years. I recently started being grateful for many things I used to take for granted. One of these is the ability to go to many countries without visa (I am French) or to study from distance which allows me to travel, meet extraordinary people and discover new cultures. To sum up, I am simply grateful for being.

    • That’s awesome! Glad to hear you’re grateful for details of your life you took for granted in the past. I’m trying to remain conscious of how much I have as well on a more frequent basis too.

      “I am simply grateful for being.” That’s the sort of philosophy that keeps people happy for the rest of their life. :)

  2. Gratitude has always been a weird thing for me an seems to be very contingent upon my mood. I guess I’m thankful for my family, even though I don’t really like the principle of associating with someone just because we share some DNA, it’s hard to argue with all that they’ve done for me. I’m grateful for having the ability to read and write, see and hear, to walk and run. For my ability to think more or less critically, and having access to clean drinking water and an almost absurd variety of food. The few friends that I have, I am grateful for.. and I guess I’m grateful for the internet and modern technology in general, although sometimes I feel like it’s as obstructing as it is liberating. Hopefully someday gratitude will come naturally to me, but as of yet it takes some effort. Have a nice Monday Vincent.

    • Same here, Ragnar. I don’t think gratitude is natural for anyone. It’s something I personally have to try to remind myself to do. I’d just be standing in the shower and remember how good things are. But throughout the day I still take things for granted by putting them in the back of my mind.

      Lately I’ve been having these moments of gratitude when I’m in the shower just thinking. It looks like it’s becoming a habit or reflex when water hits my head, so that’s cool!

      Don’t beat yourself up too much if it’s not natural. Make it habitual instead.

  3. Vincent, I pretty much echo your sentiments. I’m grateful to have incredible friendships, many of which have developed because I took a step and started blogging 2.5 years ago. The online blogging community is incredibly supportive, and I value the meaningful conversations we have via blogs and social media. I also have a mastermind/accountability group that helps keep me going and speaks wisdom into my life.

  4. I’m grateful for the internet. Without it, I would not have the ability to pursue my goals and do things I enjoy. Or at the very least it would be wayyyy harder. The fact that we’re the first generation that has this ability is pretty badass.

  5. I think gratitude is so important for everyone to have. I’ve read that it can make you happier, and I think that’s true. When you’re grateful for what you have, you’re less likely to be ungrateful for what you don’t have. And it’s when you start wanting things that you don’t have that you start to become unhappy with life. As for me, I’m grateful to be in a position where I don’t have to go to a job and I can stay home and focus on my future website and blog. I’m also grateful for all the people I’ve met online this year who are in the online business world and doing what I can’t wait to start doing myself. Good post!

    • That’s a great place to be. No getting up in a bad mood in the morning driving to an office you’d rather stay 100 miles away from. Good luck with your future website and blog. :)

  6. I am grateful for all the amazing visionaries, yogis, and mystics who came before me and through their teachings helped me discover all that is valuable in this life.

    Vincent, how long will you be in the Philippines? My wife and I will be moving to Bohol in March. How you liking it so far? Best of luck on the rest of your journey!

    • At least until May 2014! Oooh, good choice. I’ve heard Bohol is really beautiful. Chocolate Hills is the place to go apparently.

      I freaking LOVE it. You and your wife will like it as well, without a doubt. The people are absolutely amazing and I feel really safe here. Although this is Davao I’m talking about so I’m not too sure how it is further up north.

      If you ever find yourself down in Davao let me know. :)

  7. I’d feel like shit if I woke tomorrow and was completely confused and felt that I’d lost my sense of direction and purpose. I’m grateful for having that.

    On a side note I’ve been practicing gratitude for about 10 minutes every morning and night for the past month, and it’s working pretty well.

    What do you do on a typical day during your job in the Phillipines btw? I’m curious.

    • There’s really no routine since almost every day is different. The only constant in every day is writing and social media work.

      Yesterday my boss and I went and fitted our suits, went to immigration to extend our visas, then I split up and went to the mall to buy a new laptop charger along with a bunch of snacks.

      Came back home and did some writing with the boss (around 9pm,) played games on my phone, did more writing, and then went off to get a massage. Came back home and did some more writing at midnight.

      The day just started (with a decently large earthquake) and we just got off a call with someone I introduced to my boss. Today I’ll be doing a lot of writing and reaching out to some people to get on our podcast.

      Tomorrow? No idea! That’s the way I like it. :)

  8. Hey Vincent, like you stated in your own article, at the end of the day it’s the people that matter most. Sometimes as people who want to make a difference (not just in ourselves, but in the larger world), it can be so easy to feel misunderstood and distance ourselves from people or even old friends. This thanksgiving i was lucky enough to share my meal with quite a few friends from home, which showed me the importance of people who you’ve already created a bond with. Given most of us are always so focused on finding new friends or making new “connections”, it’s definitely important to remember those people who have already made a difference in our lives and show them the appreciation they deserve.

    • Love the way you put it. Cherishing the existing people in our lives is something a lot of us overlook. Getting stuck in the mindset of wanting more and more isn’t easy to break free of. Mostly because it’s difficult to even acknowledge there’s a problem to begin with!

      I definitely find myself taking my friends and family for granted all the time. I wish it wasn’t the case but I’m working on it.

      • Haha yea especially when it’s Cyber Monday and everything’s just that little bit cheaper. In any case I hope you’ve built yourself a new community in Philippines that you can also cherish and be grateful for!

  9. Vincent, I’m grateful for you.

  10. I’m grateful for having the strength to overcome all the fears and what-ifs of starting a blog, writing about my passion that is personal growth. And I’m grateful for your site which inspires me to push on.

    Jeremy

  11. My move from London to Paris. Life here is so awesome (it wasn’t like that at first), that if I woke up from this dream, devastation would definitely hit me.

    Love the idea of this post, Vincent. Definitely a new perspective on a subject that’s been done before.

    Also: love that Kevin is grateful for the internet. How did we ever live without it??!!

    • That sounds similar to my situation. Waking up to find myself back in the states right now would be terrifying.

      The internet is the reason you and I are able to comment on this very page. :)

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