Is Gratitude Overrated?

November 23, 2023

Gratitude is often heralded as the universal solution for life’s hardships. It seems that gratitude is everywhere; from journals to self-help books to social media, gratitude is without a doubt an undeniable trend.

But when plunged into the depths of real struggle, the immediate embrace of gratitude can feel less like solace and more like a superficial bandage. We are told that the answer is to find gratitude in our struggles, but can we really be grateful when we are in the throes of chaos?

In fact, this can lead to bypassingwhere we neglect to feel painful emotions and rush to answers.

The worst investment I ever made was not just a financial blunder; it was a life lesson wrapped in a costly package.

The venture? A failing e-commerce company I attempted to turn around.

The result? A loss of $1 million in 18 months. But the numbers only tell a fraction of the story.

This wasn’t merely a monetary setback.

The real cost was a loss of freedom, a disruption of peace, and an unwelcome inundation of stress into a life I had meticulously structured for calm and success. I had inadvertently opened the floodgates to chaos and confusion.

In the thick of this turmoil, advice about finding gratitude felt hollow, almost dismissive.

How could I be grateful when every decision seemed to backfire, when my peace was shattered, and there were mornings when I didn’t even want to get up to face the day?

I knew I should be grateful for the things I had, for things like my family and my wife. And I was. Truly.

But I couldn’t find gratitude for the pain that I was in. It was too acute.

However, as I navigated through this storm, a transformation began. Slowly, the chaos gave way to clarity, and the losses started to morph into lessons. This journey wasn’t immediate. It required deep introspection, acknowledgment of failure, and a humble acceptance of my own fallibility.

Most importantly, it required space. It wasn’t until months after I sold the company that I was able to start to access these feelings.

Hindsight became my teacher, and with time, gratitude started to emerge, not as a forced sentiment but as a natural consequence of growth and understanding.

I learned that hindsight is a prerequisite for true gratitude.

You cannot rush this process; it unfolds in its own time, revealing lessons and insights that can only be understood in retrospect.

This experience was the crucible that forged Unbreakable Wealth. I realized that building wealth wasn’t just about the mechanics of investing but about understanding the emotional landscape that guides our financial decisions. My failure became the cornerstone of a new philosophy, one that integrates financial acumen with emotional intelligence and life satisfaction.

Perhaps the most profound lesson was humility.

Before this venture, I carried a certain arrogance, common to those who have never tasted the bitter pill of failure. This experience taught me that there’s wisdom in vulnerability, strength in admitting mistakes, and growth in humility. Most importantly, I gained a tremendous amount of empathy and appreciation for others who are facing seemingly insurmountable situations.

Perhaps David Brooks says it best in the Second Mountain:

“The valley is where we shed the old self so the new self can emerge. There are no shortcuts. There’s just the same eternal three-step process that the poets have described from time eternal: from suffering to wisdom to service. Dying to the old self, cleansing in the emptiness, resurrecting in the new. From the agony of the valley, to the purgation in the desert, to the insight on the mountaintop”

Today, I approach investing with a different lens. My first consideration is no longer mere profit, but the potential impact on my time, relationships, happiness, and overall well-being. This framework, born out of my most significant loss, now guides my every decision.

So, is gratitude overrated?

Far from it.

But it’s not a hastily applied remedy. It’s a slow and steady revelation that emerges from the integration of life’s toughest lessons.

Gratitude is not about being thankful for the pain but for the growth, resilience, and deeper understanding that eventually springs from it.

As you face your own trials, remember that gratitude cannot be rushed. It will come, first as a trickle, then as a stream, flowing from the well of wisdom you accumulate along your journey.

Grateful for all of you,


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