Recently, we were having dinner with my friend, Keith. He had returned the day before from China where he had spent the previous three weeks training a group how to use a new piece of industrial equipment. Keith works for an aluminum casting system manufacturer and he travels the world teaching people how to use the equipment.
Whenever he returns from his journeys, he often has tales of something exotic he’s experienced, tasted or observed. I’m often enthralled by his stories. He'll even bring back weird little treats occasionally for us to try. Check out the pictures to the right to see some of the things he's brought back.
He’s traveled the globe several times now. He’s been to Russia, China, Korea, Dubai, India, etc. He’s been throughout the U.S. Keith can share tales of local customs that will leave you shaking your head in wonderment.
When he visits someplace new, he’s the subject-matter expert and people look to him with respect. Back in the local office, he’s “just Keith.” That humble attitude carries with him everywhere.
We talked about my blog for a few minutes recently and I suggested he start one for his travels.
“Why?” he said. “People wouldn’t want to read that.”
“People would be fascinated to read about your experiences in other countries,” I said. “You lead an interesting life.”
He shook his head. “No, I don’t.”
I couldn’t convince him otherwise and we moved on to a new subject. A day later, he caught a flight to the mid-west for a week to train another crew.
In Keith's mind, he isn't leading a normal life. Quite frankly, he finds it rather normal.
I've Led an Interesting Life
While driving to work the next morning, I replayed the conversation with Keith in my head. I looked at my life and thought it was tame, maybe even boring compared to Keith’s.
Then I remembered my statement to him, “You lead an interesting life.” I tried applying that outlook to my own life, looking for those stories that might be interesting:
- By the time I graduated high school, my family had moved seven times, putting me in seven different schools in three different states;
- Immediately after high school, I joined the army, seeing parts of the world most people never get to see;
- I graduated from college, the first in my family to do so;
- I’ve managed apartment complexes, strip centers and shopping malls;
- I’ve been a police officer;
- I’ve owned a karate school and other businesses;
- I’m a commercial real estate investor;
- I’ve written crime fiction novels;
- I’m now a blogger.
These are just the highlights and I had to stop listing the items because I was getting overwhelmed at the riches of experiences my life has actually given me.
Unfortunately, I had forgotten that my life really is interesting. Instead, I tend to focus on the things I haven’t accomplished.
- I haven’t visited Japan yet;
- I haven’t visited Ireland yet;
- I haven’t even visited New York yet;
- I haven't had a best selling book yet;
- I haven’t hit $1,000,000 net worth yet;
- I haven’t hit $10,000 in passive income from my real estate holdings yet;
- I haven't hit 10,000 Twitter followers yet;
- I haven't hit 1,000 email list subscribers yet.
Unfortunately, I had to stop the list because it was very easy to point out many things I haven't done yet and I was starting to feel a little depressed.
The reality, though, is I’m very lucky in the things I’ve done in my life. I’m also looking down the road and seeing great things ahead. It’s the “here and now” that I forget to appreciate.
When I thought about others in my life in the same way, I realized they, too, have led and continue to lead interesting lives. Like me, though, they aren’t taking time to appreciate what they have accomplished and instead focus on “the next big thing.”
In the same way people look for the next big purchase, a lot of us look to the next accomplishment in our life. It’s caused by the warped perspective we get from standing in our own lives which makes us seem boring.
It’s one of the reasons I believe why blogging and social media are so addictive. From the information that is shared we can see other people are an interesting bunch. Most of us just don’t take the time to realize it about ourselves.
Time goes by so fast.
Have you taken the time to appreciate your life? If not, spend a few minutes today and think about the things that you've experienced and accomplished so far in life. Appreciate what you're going through now, even if it's tough.
Don't lose sight of how good you may have it today by focusing on the promise of tomorrow.
* Please note that I used “yet” on the list above because I will accomplish those things, someday. I'm just trying to enjoy today.
What do you think?
Do you lead an interesting life?