A picture is worth a thousand words?
How about both?
Sitting here in beautiful Koh Samui, Thailand while I write this article, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by gratitude.
I’m usually a pretty happy, optimistic, and grateful guy. That’s my normal disposition.
But I feel particularly grateful right now after spending some time walking the sandy shore, feeling the warm water cascade across my feet.
Looking out onto the horizon has me feeling very optimistic about everything in life. And I can’t help but share my feelings and thoughts right now.
The beach is a place that makes me happy. I don’t need to be there every day or anything, but there’s a wonderful sense of refreshment and peace that I find washes over me whenever I spend some time at the beach. And those benefits act like a slow-moving elixir, which works long after one has left the beach.
But what makes me feel so grateful right now isn’t just the fact that I’m at the beach – I’ve visited Florida’s beaches many times throughout my years of living there – but the fact that I’m at a beach on an island in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand, which is a place I first became aware of as a child.
I grew up brutally poor. We’re talking a crack house in Detroit. No regular food. Parents were gone. Neighborhood kids wanted to kill me because of my skin color. It was really tough.
And so to go from that at nine years old to financially independent in my early 30s, now living as a dividend expat in Thailand, I can’t even begin to fully express the amount of gratitude I have for where I’m at in life.
Reflecting on this for a few moments here in Koh Samui, I want to share how attitude and gratitude have helped me achieve altitude, and I also want to share how operating at altitude can improve your attitude and gratitude.
I believe attitude is far more important than aptitude. It’s not even close, really.
It’s been said that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. You could argue with the percentage split there a bit, but there’s no doubt that one’s reactions to their surroundings will have a substantial impact on exactly what happens to them and how close they come to making their dreams come true.
If you were to give me the opportunity to be reborn as either a genius with a terrible attitude or a person with very average intelligence and a phenomenal attitude, I would take the latter 10 times out of 10. Perhaps I’m biased, since I’m much closer to the latter scenario. I’m certainly no genius.
Attitude affects our belief system. And I’ve noted before that it was my wholehearted belief in financial independence – to the point of actually seeing a future me who was already financially independent – that was critical to everything I’ve done.
Conversely, believing that something is not possible makes it such.
Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.
Attitude means so much in life.
Growing up as brutally poor as I did, it would have been easy to develop a negative attitude about the world and everyone in it.
Why me? Why was I born in poverty to terrible parents? Why couldn’t I have been given a better life?
But these were never questions I bothered asking. I never compared myself to other people who might have been given a better starting point in life.
Instead, I got to work.
I cut grass in the summer and shoveled snow in the winter just so that I could have some money for food. I went to school, kept my head down, and kept moving forward. I was too busy working hard and making the best of everything I had been given to whine and complain about any real or perceived slights. I spent too much time believing in myself and staying positive. I never thought tomorrow would be worse than today. Every day was simply an opportunity to better my situation.
And that attitude – working hard, staying positive, and focusing on everything I did have rather than everything I didn’t have – has served me well every single day of my life.
Furthermore, it’s allowed me the resources necessary (energy, drive, etc.) to make my dreams come true, because I wasn’t busy wasting time on a bad attitude.
However, life and success doesn’t end completely at attitude.
Gratitude is also incredibly important to reaching the proper altitude in life.
When you have gratitude, you appreciate your situation. You appreciate your fellow man. You feel a general sense of happiness and good fortune, which only makes you want to make the world a better place.
See, when the world provides you opportunities to put your work ethic and good attitude on display, and when you knock these opportunities out of the park (which you will), you can’t help but feel like it’s your duty to make sure others just like you have similar (or better) opportunities. When you soak up so much value, you want to provide value.
You end up making the world a better place through sheer amount of overwhelming gratitude.
And when you make the world a better place, you make your life a better life.
Gratitude improves your attitude. And a good attitude makes you really feel gratitude.
A good attitude is the foundation of a wonderful life. It’s the rocket that can take you into outer space. But it’s gratitude that is the rocket fuel. It takes something already amazing and propels to unknown heights.
When you add value, values comes back around to you. The Beatles said it best:
And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.
Gratitude makes you want to give so much love. Attitude provides you the necessary resources.
I can’t find the words to discuss just how much gratitude I have these days. Even growing up poor is something I’m grateful for – it provided me a unique and invaluable perspective and a ton of motivation to better myself and the world around me.
And I have a genuine and massive sense of appreciation for everything I have. I know what life is like when you don’t have basic needs. I know what it’s like to struggle. So to now have a life where most things are easy gives me such a sense of pride and gratefulness. I made this happen, sure. But I don’t live in a vacuum. I couldn’t have made it happen without the help of many people around me.
I’m like a big kid. I walk around with a smile all day, just amazed at everything we as a society have at our disposal these days. Life is really amazing when you stop and look around for a moment. Even stuff like the Internet and being on a jet still wows me. I can’t imagine being ungrateful.
Likewise, knowing that there are so many other people out there struggling to live like I did gives me the drive I need to continue doing whatever I can to make this world a better place.
Combining attitude and gratitude properly and holistically, in a complementary manner, means you will reach an unbelievable altitude in life.
While it should be clear by now how this process plays out, what’s less clear is how reaching altitude also then feeds back into attitude and gratitude.
This is where I find myself today.
I’ve reached an altitude that allows me this high-level look at my entire life.
The first time I was made aware of Thailand was as a little kid. I remember seeing a TV program – the exact details escape me now – that discussed Thailand, its people, its food, and its various locales. And Koh Samui was one of the places I saw.
I still remember the grainy images. It looked like paradise to me.
But it was so far away from everything I knew as a kid. There’s no way I’d ever find myself anywhere like that.
Except I have.
Going from starving and hungry as a kid to financially free and living abroad in my 30s is an extreme change in living conditions.
And now operating at this high altitude feeds back into my positive attitude and immense amount of gratitude.
I feel more optimistic and happy every day. I feel more and more grateful about my good fortune and wonderful success every day I wake up, see the sun shine, and realize the day is full of opportunities to see what else I can do.
It’s my belief that anyone else who reaches great heights in life will experience the same boost in their attitude and gratitude, which will then only further accelerate their journey to a higher altitude.
So on and so forth.
And the higher up you go, the more fortunate you’ll feel about your own situation, which will only propel you higher and higher as you use your resources to improve life itself.
Money begets money. We know this with the way compounding and snowballing works.
And so success begets success. Freedom begets freedom.
Well, not only does attitude plus gratitude equal altitude, but altitude begets attitude and gratitude.
If you have the foundation in place, you’ll see that foundation only become increasingly reinforced by itself over time. You’ll see great heights. And that rocket will be propelled beyond what you may have even thought was possible.
And as your view becomes more and more amazing, you’ll notice the drive within you to see how many other people can join you at your high altitude. And that process will boost your rocket to greater heights than ever before.
So let that great attitude lead you to amazing opportunities in life. Feel pride and gratitude when you see a job well done, as you make your dreams come true. And enjoy the view from altitude. Finally, let that altitude feed back into itself, making your life and others’ lives better in the process.
What do you think? Does attitude plus gratitude equal altitude? Does a higher altitude feed back into attitude and gratitude?
Thanks for reading.
P.S. If you’re ready to reach an incredibly high altitude, check out some amazing resources that personally helped me reach financial independence in my early 30s!