Are you lucky? I don’t mean lucky in a completely random way like winning the lotto, but living a happy life kind of lucky. Do you know that 70% of lottery winners will use up all their winnings in 7 years? (This might be a made-up statistic.) Lots of people can’t hold on to their good fortune. The really lucky ones are the people that can leverage random opportunities and make a better life for themselves and their families.
I’m a very lucky guy. My life is almost ideal at the moment. I retired from my stressful engineering career in 2012 to become a stay at home dad/blogger. I spent a ton of time with our son and earn a little money online without having to answer to anyone. It isn’t perfect because life will continue to improve. Once Mrs. RB40 retires and our son goes off to college, then I’d probably stop working completely and travel a lot more.
Anyway, life is already much better than when I was stuck in a job I dislike. I was making pretty good money, but I wasn’t happy. Work was stressful and it messed me up physically and mentally. But, you know what? Even when I was mildly depressed, I still felt lucky. Life in the US is very comfortable compare to many other parts of the world. My parents and grandparents struggled a lot more than I ever did. Let me tell you a bit about them.
My parents came to the US in 1986 with $300 in their pockets. They managed to send 3 kids to college and they are living a comfortable lifestyle back in Thailand now. This is pretty amazing considering my dad went through a ton of obstacles when he was growing up. He was orphaned at 5 years old and he went to live with his uncle. The guy took 3 boys to work at his business (in exchange for food and lodging) and left 2 girls to fend for themselves. They wanted my dad to quit going to school so he can work from 5 am to 6 pm. However, he refused to quit and they withheld some meals. If you don’t work, you don’t eat. Luckily, his teachers helped him with lunches and the maid also snuck him some food. My dad persevered, placed very high in the nationwide entranced, and attended the most prestigious university in Thailand. That’s pretty amazing. My dad went through many more iffy situations than I ever did. Compare to him, my life is easy.
My maternal grandparents immigrated to Thailand with nothing in their early 20’s. Things were pretty bleak in China back then because there wasn’t enough to eat. They worked hard and purchase one ticket at a time for their parents and siblings to join them in Thailand. My grandpa started a fabric business and put 9 kids through college. He made some mistakes and lost his business when he was older, but I think he was still very lucky compared to a lot of his contemporaries. Some of his family members didn’t make it out of China. They had to endure wars and the whole Cultural Revolution mess. My grandpa was a teacher so it would have been really bad for him if he stayed in China.
For us, life is much better than for the previous generations so I can’t complain even when things are tough. 2020 is a difficult year for all of us. However, it’s only temporary. The vaccines will be available next year and life will return to a new normal. We need to stay optimistic and look forward to better days ahead.
Optimists Are Luckier
Luck is mostly about being in the right place at the right time. There are great opportunities passing by every day. Optimists keep an eye open for such opportunities and try to take advantage of them.
In 1989, my dad was working night shifts at a gas station when my mom found a listing for a tiny Thai restaurant in the newspaper. She dragged him to look at the place even when he didn’t want to go because he was sleepy. He walked in, walked through the kitchen, and decided to go for it. The previous owner wanted to focus on another business and was willing to work with an installment plan. The stars aligned and my parents were able to improve our lives immensely by becoming business owners again. (My dad was a business owner before immigrating to the US.) If he had been a pessimist, he probably would have just said it’s not worth the 45-minute drive and went to bed.
My life is fantastic after 8 years of early retirement. I’m lucky, but it took a lot of hard work to get here too. I started blogging about FIRE in 2010 and retired early in 2012. At a glance, it might look like I accomplished my goal in 2 years. However, that’s not the whole story. I worked hard, lived frugally, and invested for 16 years. The last 2 years were intense because I was blogging, working a stressful job, and we had a baby. I didn’t get much sleep back then. Luckily, Retire by 40 generated a little income and gave me the confidence to quit engineering. It wasn’t all luck, though. Anyone could have started a FIRE blog in 2010, but not many people did. I got in early and had a nice headstart.
*It isn’t too late to start a blog. Check out my guide – How to start a blog and why you should.
Control your destiny
Optimists believe they are in control of their destiny and they work hard to improve their lives. Even when things are bleak, we know there will be better days ahead. We just need to be willing to work hard, take some chances, and make some radical changes if needed. Don’t be a pessimist. The best days are ahead of us, not behind.
Did you know that optimists tend to outperform pessimists in all aspects? They are also healthier and luckier. Optimism is a learned trait, so why choose pessimism? Are you a Lucky Optimist?
Here is a book that can help you become more optimistic – Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
Here is a bonus song to help cheer you up! 😉
Image credit – Oleg Magni
Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!
Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.