Living Out Loud

The Gratitude Habit


Part of my daily routine is to record three things in my daily journal entry for which I'm grateful. I've been doing it for a long time. I try not to be too repetitive, so I'm always on the lookout for things to identify and add to my list. It helps to ask myself that question multiple times a day. I found a good parking spot? Boom! Grateful. My clothes fit particularly comfortably today? Boom! Grateful. A text from one of my grown kids, a tasty lunch at a familiar restaurant, a good report at the dentist - I'm always on the lookout.

I'm lucky in that I have everything I need even if I don't have everything I want. I learned how to tell the difference between those two things a while back and that skill serves me well. Life is by no means perfect, I weigh too much, some of the people I love the most live too far away to see them as much as I would like. I sometimes regret not getting further along the career path I chose than I did before I retired. All of those things are mitigated by other factors. I've lost weight before. With technology, I can stay in touch with my kids and grandkids fairly easily. I may not have retired as the CIO of a tech company, but I had a solid 8-5, Mon-Fri job that left me plenty of time to do the stuff that really brings me joy.

I battled alcohol for years, sometimes going long stretches without it, years even, only to fall back into bad habits and addiction. I'm forever going to be grateful that things finally clicked one day. I had a moment of clarity that allowed me to see what kind of future I was headed towards and to also see that I could avoid going there. I took my last drink on December 28th, 2008 and have been continuously sober ever since. Being sober isn't my identity. I'm prouder of things I've done than of the simple act of abstaining, but I'm definitely happy not to have that struggle any more.

I've been married since I was 18 - to four different people. Luckily my wife and I have been together a dozen years now and it keeps getting better. I don't suffer from the curse of loneliness or the stress of constant fighting. I didn't go to college. I was a two-time teenage parent, and the workforce was always the place for me. I found the IT field around the age of 30 after having been in the military, working construction and in manufacturing and a stint as a prison guard. Once I got into computers I moved through a couple of different industries before landing in educational technology, the area I made a career. Even post-retirement, I missed it enough to take a low stress job at a local university solving problems for end users.

My wife and I have enough dough that we don't have to worry about the things that used to be terrifying when I was younger: an unexpected car repair bill, medical expenses, the death of a major appliance. We don't have helicopter money but don't have to pinch pennies either. We can afford to help out the kids when they need it. It feels good. I'm not going to lie.  At the end of most days, I go to bed pretty happy. I have enough in my life to keep me busy. I still love technology as much as I did when I bought my first computer (on a Sears card in 1993). I have repaired the damage my bad habits caused in my life. I'm fortunate and I'm grateful and I'm glad to make that list every single day.