One of the benefits of my early retirement is the change of mindset that has come with it. Removing 50+ hours of work a week allows life to be lived at a different pace, allowing space for the mind to wander and explore new areas and ideas.
With some of my new time, I'm discovering podcasts, which I mostly listen to while running. This week I've listened to Reroot with Eamon & Bec, a vanlife couple from Canada, and The Happy Pear Podcast, entrepreneurial Irish twins with a mission to help everyone get healthier and be happier - how cool a mission is that!
I don't recall which podcast it was, but the topic of gratefulness came up. I like the idea of stopping for a moment, to remember what we have and to be thankful for. There's lots going on in the world, the news outlets mostly focus on the bad, but life is better when we focus on the positives.
Five things I'm grateful for...
Trying to be adventurous
I'm not naturally adventurous, but I'm trying. I'm in a fortunate position to have been able to retire early and I want to make the most of it, for it to be memorable. My aim is where I see something I think I'd like to do, try to do it, and if I'd ordinarily say no to something, try to say yes. I don't want to have the regret of saying "I wish I'd done..."
I've been happy with a small group of friends, without feeling I needed more. In 2013, I joined a running club and perhaps got my first taste of community. Now I enjoy being part of the FIRE community, and also get a feeling of community from a couple of YouTube channels I follow. Maybe that's weird because they're online, but it does feel like community and I enjoy it. Perhaps there should be more community in my future - how about a tiny house community as a "just putting it out there" idea?
Being healthy and fit
I don't often get sick. I caught a bug while in Colombia in 2019, but can't remember the time before that. I play my part though: I'm happy with my plant based diet, no longer drink alcohol, get enough sleep and exercise more than most. Early retirement presents a ton of opportunities, but I need to be healthy to make the most of them.
One that we expect to have on a list of things to be grateful for, but we shouldn't take it for granted. I start of course with my wife, Sally, and our two children. Sally sometimes struggles with my early retirement ideas, but goes along with most of it anyway. Then there's my Dad and my sisters - living in a different country means that I don't see them often but I know they'd be there for me. My Mum is no longer with us but, more than anyone, she taught me the importance of values, to care, to do my best, to treat people as I expect to be treated myself...I'd love to be able to tell her how grateful I am, but I'm sure she already knows.
A Positive attitude
I think I've always had a partly positive attitude, tinged with "but what if it goes wrong?" I used to drive Sally mad by asking her to tell me the one reason why we can do something, not the five reasons why we can't. It seems to be a happier and more optimistic way to be. Happily, these days I worry much less about the "but what if it goes wrong?" part.
Being stress free
The relief as the stress lifted from my shoulders when I retired early was almost a physical thing. I hadn't realised how heavily it sat until it was taken away. Do I have stress now? I guess there must be something, but other than when I try to converse in French, I genuinely can't think what it is, and I love feeling this way. I do deliberately push myself out of my comfort zone, which is a good thing, but that's different from the stress I'm talking about here.
Oops, that was six things instead of five - having extra things to be grateful is a good problem to have!
When I set my goals and targets for 2021 I said that I'd keep posting to my blog but sometimes the content might be more interesting to me than to others. This might be one of those posts, although maybe it will encourage others to reflect on the things they're grateful for. This post also reminds me of one I did in March 2020, How about an early retirement journal? which is partly what my blog is for me. If you're trying to make a list of things you could do in early retirement, consider adding a journal to that list, it might be more fun than you think.