A Swift Kick in the Pants (with Mrs. BITA)

Mrs. BITA came up with an awesome Friday Gratitude post! It’s so awesome that I’m publishing it a day early. Thanks Mrs. BITA!

Last week was a rough week at work. Deadlines were looming, unreasonable demands were lurking behind every cubicle wall, and panicked managers were scheduling a meeting a minute. During the accumulation phase of financial independence and early retirement, there is nothing like Corporate America at its very worst to make one feel a close affinity to Sisyphus. The last straw that broke this camel’s back was when we were handed our annual performance evaluations and my salary increase and stock grant were lower than I expected. By the time the weekend rolled around I was a whining ball of discontent.

I’ve spent the last few days realizing that I was behaving rather badly. So when Mr. 1500 gave me the opportunity to write a Friday Gratitude post, I jumped on it.

I’m going to write to myself, to remind myself of all the reasons that I have to not be a thankless, dissatisfied brat.

Dear Ingrate BITA,

I love you. You know I do. Use that as lubricant to make it easier to bear what is to follow.

Yes, you suffered through a few meetings that made you want to smack your head against a wall repeatedly. Yes, your raise was smaller than you expected. Boohoo. Allow me to remind you that you and Mr. BITA have set a goal of saving $160,000 this year, and in the first third of this year you were more than halfway there. You are trying to save more than most folks on this planet make in a year. So no, you entitled brat. You don’t get to whine about a smaller-than-you-would-have-liked raise. You get to be extremely grateful every minute of every day for the extraordinary luck that has put you in the position to save as much as you already do.

Putting aside the money for a minute, how about some gratitude for Toddler BITA?

When you and Toddler BITA took a walk early last week, you chanced upon a worm. Toddler BITA bent low to examine it with the respect all worm-like creatures deserve, and then announced that it was a ‘dead worm’. Later than night, at the dinner table, it occurred to you that you didn’t know what exactly Toddler BITA thought dead meant. So you asked her. And she said, “It means so long”, and, when questioned, steadfastly refused to elaborate. You weren’t sure if she was being deeply philosophical, or just a weird toddler. A few days later, Toddler BITA was playing with the toy pictured below – those are gears, she calls them ‘flowers’:

As she started playing, she informed Mr. BITA that she was going to make a ‘flower dead’. Confused, he asked if she meant a flower bed. She looked at him with pity, sorry that he was so slow on the uptake. She built out what you see above and then said, “See! A flower dead. It is so long.”

Do you remember how you both laughed till your stomachs hurt? How is that gift of laughter not something to be extremely grateful for?

On Saturday night you hosted an old friend who was visiting from India. Much wine and beer was consumed, and you stayed up till the wee hours catching up. You even got to discuss finances with him, and the idea of early retirement. If the enmeshing of old friendships and new ideas, all marinated in wine, isn’t cause for gratitude, I don’t know what is.

On Mother’s Day, last Sunday, Mr. BITA whisked Toddler BITA out of the house soon after she woke up and they stayed out till lunch. Four hours of uninterrupted you time. What a gift! Guess what we should feel when we receive such stupendous gifts? That’s right: Gratitude.

Let us put aside all these many instances of joy that you were blessed with in just this past week. Shall we instead examine your life as a whole for just a moment?

You have parents who love you and believe in you.

You have a sibling whom you adore.

Your husband, child and dog all conspire to make you happy an order of magnitude more often than they cause you sadness.

You have your health.

You have hot coffee in plenty, and never wonder where your next meal is coming from.

You get to travel and explore the world.

Hummingbirds frequent your back yard.

You have friends you can rely on in your hour of need.

Inexplicably, miraculously, folks regularly show up at your blog (not quite in hordes, but certainly more than a trickle) to read what you write.

You have the immense good fortune of being able to plan to retire at the age of 42.

Indian babies often have a little black dot on the forehead, or on one cheek. Why? The ‘evil eye’ is attracted to good fortune, and the black dot is supposed to ward off the ‘evil eye’ (the idea being that the little black dot mars the perfection of the child, and fools the evil eye into believing that its work there is already done, and it need pay no further attention to this particular child). If anything ever needed a giant black dot, Ingrate BITA, it is the life you are so fortunate to live. Your happiness portfolio is far more familiar with the bear than the bull. How you can ever view it with a jaundiced eye is simply beyond me.

The thing about an attitude of gratitude, Ingrate BITA, is that it is a choice. It is a choice you have to make every day, and frankly, you have no excuse for not choosing gratitude. None at all.

And on the off chance that you aren’t yet awash in gratitude this beautiful Friday, let me leave you with these immortal words by Bill Bryson:

“Not only have you been lucky enough to be attached since time immemorial to a favoured evolutionary line, but you have also been extremely – make that miraculously – fortunate in your personal ancestry. Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth’s mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forbears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stuck fast, untimely wounded or otherwise defected from its life’s quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result – eventually, astoundingly – in you.”

Love always, and a swift kick in the pants,

The Voice In Your Head, who is ever so grateful to be along for this stupendous ride

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27 Responses to A Swift Kick in the Pants (with Mrs. BITA)

  1. Love the guest post and congrats on being halfway through your year’s goal as well. It’s funny how we all get caught up in office politics, myself included, and get the woe is me attitude no matter how well we are doing. Being able to save more than people make in a year on average is nothing to scoff at. Great inspirational post overall!

    • Mrs. BITA says:

      Thank you! It is so easy to lose perspective and turn into a whining brat. Periodically asking yourself – what should I be grateful for? is a great antidote, which is why the Friday Gratitude series by Mr. 1500 is so awesome. Every time I read what he is grateful for, it reminds me to go over my own list.
      Mrs. BITA recently posted…Have you ever asked yourself: 4% of What?My Profile

  2. Way to get some perspective, Mrs. BITA. You don’t want to be one of the wall street whiners that is upset about his low $3.6M bonus (http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/19/why-this-wall-street-trader-got-mad-about-a-36-million-bonus-and-quit-commentary.html).

    Or maybe you do.

    I do, actually.

    Kidding aside, you’re going to save more this year than most people in this world earn in a decade, let alone a year. There is much to be thankful for, and it’s good to remind ourselves of that fact more often than an annual Thursday in November. Now, could you please pass the turkey?

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    • Mrs. BITA says:

      Oh to have his problems! I like him. His brattishness makes me seem like a paragon of virtue.

      That is one of the reasons I love this series by Mr. 1500 – every Friday I get reminded to pull my head out of my nethers and think about all that is good in my life, and there is plenty.
      Mrs. BITA recently posted…Have you ever asked yourself: 4% of What?My Profile

  3. I love this post and I really needed it right now. I was focusing on some things that were bothering me and I need to put them perspective. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. veronica says:

    That. Was. Awesome.

  5. What a great post! I love how you took the time to remember all the great things in life, instead of letting all the crappy work stuff get to you. I try to do that to, but it’s really hard sometimes!
    On a side note, your goal is to save $160,000 this year???? Whoa. That’s incredible.

    • Mrs. BITA says:

      Thank you Linda. I’m learning that focussing on the good stuff magnifies it. Such a cheap and easy way to bump up the happiness factor in ones life.

      About the $160k – that is pretty crazy, I agree. 9 years ago I was worth just about $60k. I sometimes can’t quite believe the change.
      Mrs. BITA recently posted…Have you ever asked yourself: 4% of What?My Profile

  6. wendy says:

    Great guest post! We all need to remind ourselves to be regularly grateful and put our daily mundane annoyances in perspective.
    I usually ask myself…”will this matter in five years?” quickly followed by “will I even remember this in five years!?”

  7. I love the tone of the piece Mrs. BITA. Bad weeks at work come and go, but in the end its just noise. It won’t matter next month when your on to the next problem. The sooner we realize that the better off we are. I go on vacation on Friday for 4 days, so at this moment I have nothing but gratitiude.

    Oh and I like the info on the black dot, always interesting reading about explanations for other cultures.

  8. Jacq says:

    I feel like there’s an adage out there about ‘Dogs that conspire’ especially to create happiness for their owners…and if not there should be!
    Keep rockin’ Mrs. BITA.

    2 years ago, at this time of year, I was ‘on a plan’ at work (aka writing on the wall that my boss wanted me out.) Because of this, I was not eligible for a raise. My bonus was drastically reduced from the year before because they cited ‘performance’ as the reason for the plan, therefore poor performance = no justification for a nice bonus.
    I was stressed to the max working under this ‘sword of Damocles’ that another ‘toe out of line’ meant the end and trying everything I could think of to stay and exceed ‘the plan’. I was pretty miserable, and fairly delusional that I needed to keep _that_ job.
    The day came where my boss set up a 4:30 pm meeting (just a few weeks later in fact). My body went cold as the adrenaline kicked on. Rory Gilmore being an inspiration, I made a pro/ con list. If that was my last day… on the negative side I was worried I’d disappoint my parents that I hadn’t maintained gainful employment. (I don’t remember the others but there were at least 3, probably the steady paycheck part.) On the pro list was the loss of all that stress, being able to take a day time yoga class, visiting friends & family, having the time to truly search for a job that was a better fit, and I had money in savings, so that was -not- a source of stress. With a longer pro than con list, I took a deep breath and started to organize outstanding items so others could find what they’d need if my suspicion was correct. When I was right, I tried to gracefully accept my fate, verified with the HR person in attendance outstanding pay & being paid for unused vacation hours, filing for unemployment. I woke up the next day, and all that stress was gone. I went to yoga, cooked myself lunch, and started to look for a job. My parents were not at all disappointed, and were as relieved as me that I wasn’t under that stress, because they’d seen what it was doing to me. My stint in unemployment is inspiration for my FI life, cooking, exercising and filling my time with part time work, instead of job hunting.

    I am grateful for: The clarity to look at that situation, from a distance (I was too deep in to see how bad it/I really was). Supportive family & friends & yoga community. My current job & wonderful managers. (I’m slowly learning to -not- panic when my boss asks me to her office, it’s never been something bad here!). My savings, and rebuilding it and having it and knowing I can roll with what the universe has in store for me. For an FI community that inspires, and inspires more gratefulness. Thank you Mr. 1500 for your weekly gratefulness reminders & Mrs. BITA for being wonderfully inspirational this week. Hope you don’t mind my dead (long) comment. 🙂

    • Mrs. BITA says:

      Thank you for sharing your story, and for reminding all those who are having a tough time with life right now, that there is a tomorrow, and when that tomorrow comes, it will, in time make yesterday seem insignificant.

      I’m glad you now have a job you love, and managers who value you. May the rest of your path to FI be relatively drama free!
      Mrs. BITA recently posted…Have you ever asked yourself: 4% of What?My Profile

  9. Mr. SSC says:

    Oh, my sister from another mister… Funny you should be writing this.

    Nice perspective and it’s timely for me as well. This past week and next week I’m the DoA for my boss during his vacation. So I’m doing 2 jobs this week, mine and his. And he was gracious enough to forward his inbox to mine. Literally, every email… Then yesterday I found out I was picked to be on a “moonshot/out of the box thinking” team and I realized that next week I’m supposed to devote 50% of my time to my job, 50% of my time to my boss’s job, and 50% of my time to this new project team. 🙂

    It has been exasperating trying to keep up with both jobs was and like you, I got a little down about it. Then I realized, “Look you ingrate, you’re seen as responsible enough to cover for your boss and sit in for him for 2 weeks while he’s unreachable. Your other mgr’s (I technically have 7 now) value you enough to choose you over anyone else for this new project, and so what if the next week and a half is busy, it beats the crap out of being unemployed or in a slow business unit. Suck it up buttercup.”

    So thanks for the dose of reality and yes, this week and the next may be exhausting but I should be excited about being offered the opportunity and not put out by the 2 weeks of exasperation juggling both positions. 🙂
    Mr. SSC recently posted…Estimated Lifestyle Change Spending: Canyon Lake EditionMy Profile

    • Mrs. BITA says:

      “Oh, my sister from another mister… Funny you should be writing this.”
      Well played, sir.

      Oh boy, aren’t you the popular chap at work. The moonshot team sounds like it might be fun. If you come up with something crazy, I hope you share the story your blog.

      7 managers. Ugh, that is some tough shit buttercup. I’m glad I’m not you. One more thing to be grateful for : )
      Mrs. BITA recently posted…Have you ever asked yourself: 4% of What?My Profile

  10. cadash12 says:

    Years ago I was given a little card that said “Choose your attitude.” It was very fitting at the time because I had a boss that was a Debbie Downer and she would bring everyone down with her. It was really draining, so every time I would get down, I would pull out that card and choose a better attitude. A grateful attitude. I don’t have the card anymore, but I always think of it when I start to feel sorry for myself, and realize my life is great. I can choose how I react to things and I choose to be happy. Thanks for your post!

  11. Divnomics says:

    This is an awesome gratitude post! It’s so easy to wander in negative thoughts and let bad thinking clouding your mind. I still have those sometimes, but always try to push those thoughts away. If you choose to be positive, you will feel great as well. Great reminder!

    • Mrs. BITA says:

      Did you know that there are studies out there that show that your emotional state is affected by your facial expressions? So smile away, and fake it till you make it. It might be a bit creepy for those around you, but if the end result is a happier you – worth it, I would say.
      Mrs. BITA recently posted…Have you ever asked yourself: 4% of What?My Profile

  12. Very impressive saving goal! I love Bill Bryson. That quote is very important and it reminds me that when I need inspiration myself, I tend to find that immersing myself into thinking about topics so much bigger and deeper than my petty frustrations really helps.
    Primal Prosperity recently posted…How to become a ‘Muon Hunter’, ‘Carbon Detective’ or a ‘Gravity Spy’ (no experience necessary)My Profile

  13. KMB says:

    Bravo BITA!

  14. Awesome!!

    Cute story on the “flower dead” – so I have to ask, did you ever figure out where Toddler BITA got dead = so long?

    • Mrs. BITA says:

      Nope. My best guess is context from a single exposure. She probably heard the word at school or something – maybe they found a long dead earthworm – and some other kid called it a ‘dead worm’. Based on that one exposure and the observable characteristics of the worm, she decided that dead must mean so long. Until she has more exposures to the word that teach her otherwise, she is sticking with what she observed : )
      Mrs. BITA recently posted…The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)My Profile

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