Productivity starts with being grateful

Ever since I was little, I have this habit of picking up these one-liners, these little sayings from songs, tv shows, and movies that end up sticking with me for life. From Spiderman‘s infamous “With great power comes great responsibility” to the countless Louis C.K.’s memorable quotes in Louie (my favorite one so far has to be “The only time you should look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough”), there are moments where I would say to myself: Remember this. This is important.

So the other night I was catching up on my podcast queue, and this little gem showed up from The Suze Orman Show.

Suze Orman Show

“If you want to have more, you first have to feel good about what you do have.”
Remember this. This is important.

You don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you currently stand. Likewise, you can’t be more productive until you’re grateful for what you already have.

Look, we all want to be in a better place tomorrow than where we are today. It’s part of being human. And it’s often easier to complain about how things aren’t perfect, because few things in life really are. But it’s more meaningful, and way more productive, to have a genuine gratitude for what you have, so you can move away from the unsatisfaction and shame for what you lack in order to focus on the things you can control and improve upon.

For example, it’s easy for me to say how crappy my apartment is. It has poor instillation, there are only four electric outlets in the entire apartment and my oven doesn’t even connect because of it. There are a lot of things I can complain about my current living situation, but instead I learned to focus on the following things:

  • I’m grateful that I can walk to work everyday. (A true rarity here in LA.)
  • Walking to work everyday gives me 20-minutes of light exercise and thinking space.
  • I’m lucky to live in a peaceful, quiet neighborhood at a somewhat affordable price.
  • I’m thankful I have my own space, so I can stay up as late as I want.

I’m pretty content with where I am despite all the shortfalls to my apartment. And because of that, I can focus on how to improve my apartment, like buying thicker curtains to improve instillation or getting an extension cord for the oven.

The trick is to have something you’re genuinely thankful for, that way you don’t feel like you’re just lying to yourself.

So what are you trying to achieve, and what do you already have that you’re grateful for before reaching out for more?

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