Imagine you’re a caveman living back in the times where men could talk and communicate, but had not figured out society and technology of any kind.
You wake up with the sun and go out to hunt. You usually hunt in a group of 10, but lately, one member of your hunting party has been sick – so he’s back at the cave, resting.
The nine of you are alone, deep into the jungle, and you haven’t eaten anything all day.
You spot a wild deer, you swing your spear at it, but miss, and it runs away into the wilderness. You go and pick the fallen spear back up and move on, keenly looking for a target, while moving silently because you don’t want to scare away prey nor attract predators.
You hear some snakes moving, and you’re careful of where you step – because you know one bite can mean death.
It’s evening now, and you’ve been hunting all day. You drink some water from the river that flows through this forest you call home, and you finally manage to catch something: a young wild foal, you throw your spear at it, and it hits! Your tribe has food for the night.
The nine of you carry the meat back to your base so that you can enjoy it with your women and children.
You pray to your prehistoric god to thank him for the food, and you pray for the best of the health for your sick friend.
Overall, life is hard, food is hard to come by; there is the risk of death all the time – you live in the jungle after all. It’s eat or be eaten. And even if you do everything right, you might just randomly fall sick and die.
But – you’re happy. You’re so glad that you’re alive and well today, your tribe, women, and children are well-fed, and you don’t think too much about anything else.
Suddenly though, the world starts flashing – the alarm is ringing. Oh, it turns out you’ve been dreaming all this while, and it’s time to go to work! This isn’t the Stone Age; you’re living in the modern world – you have important things to be worried about.
This story was meant to highlight how far we’ve come as a race. Food, water, disease – worrying about those are usually the last things on our minds!
And yet so many of our fellow humans claim to be depressed, or unhappy with their lives.
(If you are depressed: Read my concrete guide to beating depression)
A big reason for a lot of sadness in people’s lives is that they forget what they have – people get used to their gifts and take them for granted.
I mean, when was the last time you felt happy just for having food on the table?
See – no matter how much you have, you can never truly enjoy it if you never take a moment to appreciate it.
So if you feel that life sucks, then let’s take a moment to develop some gratitude in our lives.
Below are a series of questions that I want you to answer for yourself.
If you have some time, take a pen and a paper and write your answers down.
You will find that your mood will change and your outlook for the future will see a shift. The better/longer your answers are, the more profound this effect will be.
1) What am I thankful/grateful for today?
(Note: the answers don’t have to be something big or profound. Perhaps a nice hot coffee in the morning, having enough money to buy a decent lunch, a car to ride to work in, a good night’s sleep, etc.)
2) What things do I have that other people don’t? How many people would exchange lives with me in an instant?
(For the second question: try to quantify the answer in billions or millions. Remember that a large part of the world lives in poverty, is uneducated, and does not have access to clean food or water)
Slums are home for more than 1 billion people of the world. Most slum dwellers are uneducated and have to hustle for two square meals a day.
(Just Google “slum house” for some harrowing images)
3) What accomplishments am I most proud of? What obstacles have I beaten?
Perhaps you were shy and taught yourself to interact with people, or maybe you were skinny and you’ve built yourself a body to be proud of, perhaps you’re good at academics? Big or small – what makes you feel pride in yourself?
4) What things could I start doing that could lead to a significant improvement in my life? How can I take care of myself a little more?
Think of the areas you feel that you lack in – health, peace, companionship, money, whatever – and what you can do to improve the situation.
Just jot down all the possibilities and ideas that come to mind.
5) Who cares about me? Who do I care about?
Family? Close friends? Your girl/man?
6) How have I contributed to the world? What lives have I improved?
If you are very young, ignore this question.
7) Would I take the ovarian lottery?
The ovarian lottery is a term coined by Warren Buffet. The lottery goes like this:
If you have the chance of being born again, to a random woman in the world (i.e., you have a chance to redo your life by being born from another mother – picked purely randomly through the world) – would you take it?
Think about it – you could be born in the most powerful family in the world. You could be the prettiest, you could be born in a middle-class family, you could be born in the first world or the third world, you could be a farmer in communist China, you could be one of those 1 billion slum dwellers or a slave in Libya, or be born female in a poor African country. Perhaps you could have birth defects, or get polio, or be born a dictator – it would all be completely random.
Would you take this lottery?
Take some time to answer these questions. You will notice a shift in your thinking patterns.
Hope this helps!
New readers: If you’re interested in getting in control of where your life is heading and improving your mindset, discipline, and self-control, you should check out Live Intentionally: Discipline, Mindset, Direction – A 90 Day Self-Project.
– Harsh Strongman