The other day I was walking down the streets of my neighborhood with my wife, looking at properties that would be great opportunities to buy, fix up, and one day sell. The architecture in the neighborhoods around our apartment downtown are dammed with potential. I've read books, listened to podcasts, and networked for the past four years trying learn more about real estate investing, so naturally as my my ideas were flowing, I was becoming antsy to take action as we strategized together.
But on our walk home, knowing that the timing wasn't right yet, a question popped into my head that I never thought of before:
“What if I never own an investment property?... What if I never even buy my own house?”
It stopped my longing and restless thoughts in their tracks.
“Well... I guess I would stop and enjoy the rental apartment I have", I thought to myself, "even amidst everything that it lacks."
And then do my best to do the same for my other rentals that would come.”
I started applying this question to other smaller desires that would pop up throughout the day because I noticed how well it helped me to let go of my angst that was stealing my ability to be present in the home and season I was in now.
"What if I don’t have enough to save for retirement this month, or if I don't leave at exactly the right time to get to work at the appropriate hour, or if I don’t get to read my new book before bed this evening like I'm hoping to?"
"Can I still be happy? Can I still be present? Can I still be awake?"
Yeah, they were little, but it's fascinating how quickly the little things can steal away our sense of gratitude. The question of "What if X never happens?" is a quick way to find out what your happiness is dependent on. And what is capable of stealing it. It also forces you to mentally accept the limitations of your current situation and reminds you to enjoy the present more deeply as it is, rather than how you wish it was.
Today was a great example that sometimes happiness isn’t about adding something to your life, but giving something up and accepting life as it is.