Today’s edition of Friday Gratitude comes from Coach Carson. I added some happy photos from a recent trip to Wisconsin.
When Mr. 1500 wrote his first Friday Mindfulness post, I was impressed. He said he wanted to regularly share the good things in his life in order to make himself happier. Here were his words:
In an effort to be happier, I’m working at being mindful of all of the great things going on in my life and beyond. It isn’t easy, but these post help me ignore the crap and focus on all that is good.
When I saw the post I quickly messaged Mr. 1500 and said: “I want in on this!” After all, plenty of scientific research shows that regular practices of gratitude boost your happiness and well-being (check out this summary at Harvard Health Publications). I didn’t want to let Mr. 1500 hog all the happiness to himself!
So, here are some random Friday Gratitude/Mindfulness notes of my own, primarily related to money and the FIRE community.
Winning the Ovarian Lottery
Like Mr. 1500, I follow Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger regularly. Buffett has a habit of telling people how fortunate he was to be born in this particular time and place. He calls it “winning the ovarian lottery.”
I couldn’t agree more. And I’m very thankful for this in my own life.
In his biography, The Snowball, Buffett explained it this way:
I’ve had it so good in this world, you know. The odds were fifty-to-one against me being born in the United States in 1930. I won the lottery the day I emerged from the womb by being in the United States instead of in some other country where my chances would have been way different.
Imagine there are two identical twins in the womb, both equally bright and energetic. And the genie says to them, “One of you is going to be born in the United States, and one of you is going to be born in Bangladesh. And if you wind up in Bangladesh, you will pay no taxes. What percentage of your income would you bid to be the one that is born in the United States?” It says something about the fact that society has something to do with your fate and not just your innate qualities. The people who say, “I did it all myself,” and think of themselves as Horatio Alger – believe me, they’d bid more to be in the United States than in Bangladesh. That’s the Ovarian Lottery.” [bolding was from me for emphasis]
For better or worse, the society you were born in sets your limits to some extent.
My good friend Erion Shehaj at InvestingArhitect.com was born and grew up in the formerly communist country of Albania. He wrote an incredible post on BiggerPockets.com called An Immigrant’s Impressions on Opportunity and Real Estate Investing in America. About opportunities, Erion said this:
When “what’s possible” has always been so, it’s hard to truly appreciate the magnitude of that opportunity. That’s where my perspective as an immigrant who grew up in an isolated communist country can provide some much needed contrast to identify the often underutilized opportunities that are available in the United States.”
Erion gave the example of a house painter born in many other countries in the world. No matter how skilled, this painter would have an upper limit on income and wealth. But in the U.S or similar economic/political systems, this painter could create a 7-figure business and amass incredible wealth in one lifetime!
Erion gives a reality check to all of us living in the US with this comment about the wealthy U.S. painter:
The fact that this scenario is possible for everyone that is willing to do what it takes to achieve it, blows my mind every day. Especially when on the same breath, I hear people (who were born in this environment) complain about the economy, the government, high taxes, the recession, job availability and all the rest.
Complaining or being thankful. That is a daily choice you and I can make. And the positive (or negative) energy of those choices makes a difference in our wealth building and in our lives.
Undeserved & Unrequested Gifts
Along the same lines, it struck me recently that we all receive gifts. Many of these gifts are from our parents or others who influenced us early on. We neither requested these gifts or deserved them.
These gifts are things like our name, our language, our beliefs about right/wrong, and our core life experiences. We receive and absorb these gifts into our lives before we’re even young enough to say thank you (or NO thank you).
But here’s the crazy thing about these gifts. Some of them are wonderful. And some of them SUCK!
I’m thankful that most of my gifts were amazing and wrapped in shiny paper. Specifically, with money, my parents were both entrepreneurs. I was able to absorb their habits, their ideas, and their work ethic before I even knew what those were.
But Mr. 1500 and I discussed in the past that he DIDN’T receive those same gifts. His early money experiences had a lot of the opposite messages. Yet, I think we’d all agree he has become an impressive human being!
Here’s the key point – as adults we get to DECIDE what to do with our gifts.
We can take sucky gifts and use them as lessons what NOT to do. Or we can complain about them and use them as an excuse and an anchor for our possibilities.
At the same time, we can also take amazing gifts and squander them. It happens all the time.
In my best moments (which admittedly are not all the time!), I’m trying to appreciate and use my own gifts for good. How about you?
FIRE Community – Online and Offline
Communities are amazing. I am really thankful to be part of so many great FIRE communities, both online and offline.
For example, Mr. 1500 and I were both on the Choose FI podcast recently. The hosts Brad and Jonathan are doing an amazing job of building a community dedicated to FIRE enthusiasts. I can’t believe they actually interviewed me after seeing all the other amazing guests they’re bringing on!
I’m also occasionally active on the BiggerPockets forums and blog, the Rockstar Finance Forums, and lately the MrMoneyMustache Forums. There are so many brilliant, interesting people who interact in these places. I’m really thankful just to let some of that goodness rub off on me!
But many of these FIRE communities are spilling over offline, too.
Here in Cuenca, Ecuador where I’m living with my family this year, I’ve randomly become friends with a couple of early retirees who read this blog and others. We’re everywhere!
And at the urging of Mr. 1500, Jim Collins, MadFientist, and others, I can’t wait to attend my first Chautauqua retreat this year! It helps that I currently live a short 45-minute flight away on the other side of Ecuador.
I’ll also be flying back from Ecuador to attend FinCon in Dallas. If you’re a financial blogger or online entrepreneur, this community is awesome. The conference itself is an intense, amazing, and exhausting week. But I also regularly benefit from the private FinCon Facebook Group. Just this week I had an email list issue on my blog, and two top-notch bloggers (Jim Wang from WalletHacks.com and Steve Chou from MyWifeQuitHerJob.com) responded to my question with brilliant, specific answers within hours!
With these kinds of communities in existence, there has never been a better time to be pursuing FIRE or to be a blogger!
What About You?
Enough about me! What are you thankful for? Have you won the ovarian lottery? Or did you have bad gifts that you’ve had to overcome? And what communities are you excited to be a part of?
Thanks so much Coach!
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