Frances, a friend of mine in Berlin, wrote this and I wanted to share it with you because I think it speaks to something we can all relate to. If you would like to share a gratitude story, you can do so by using the Share Your Gratitude Stories page. You don’t even have to provide your name and can stay anonymous. Alternatively, if you have a question for me that you would like answered you can Ask Me Anything. If you wold like to see examples of previous advice I gave, here is the link.

Over to Frances…

I’ve been a lot happier lately (like more than usual)

Everything has changed (and will continue to change). Last year 2014 May, I was graduating university. I had no idea then that I would be living, working, thriving in another country. I am blessed to have this opportunity and the support I have from friends and family.

As of lately, I haven’t just been happy with the way things are going, or with the things I have; rather, I have been extremely proud of who I turned into, who I am now, and I am excited for who I will become.
I am more in love with myself than I have ever been in my past, and I hope that this development of self continues. Let’s be clear, I am far from Enlightenment (like, trillions of miles away), but I love myself enough to accept that in whole.

So much of my perception of life has changed through hard mental work: striving for understanding, dancing with change (instead of resisting), forgiveness of self & for those who have hurt me. (Surprise! I wasn’t born this optimistic, or positive).

Here are some of the important topics of my perception that have changed the most lately:

1. Money
From my observation, happiness coming from money at the most basic level can be boiled down to two questions:
(a) Do I have enough money to survive? Shelter/Rent, Food, Transportation, Tuition (not counting student loans)
(b) How am I spending my money conducive to my needs and wants?

If (a) is not being met, and/or (b) is not clear, then this leads to the worst type of anxiety.
When I first moved to Berlin, I was faced with a lot of stress concerning funds should I continue living here and how I can support myself. After the anxiety attacks, I finally took a deep breathe and simplified my problems to questions so that I can find a solution. It took months (and I am still working on it!) but I finally feel like I am gaining control over my money and not visa-versa.

(a) Do I have enough money to survive?: YES (Thank The Lord, Praise baby Jesus! *insert praying hands emoji, clap emoji, and crying emoji, and #blessed*)
I have the money to survive. I make enough income per month to pay my rent (~300E), my language school (225E), my textbooks (16.98E), my train ticket (79.99E), & groceries (~20E/wk)

(b) How am I spending my money conductively? By being clear and calculated. By being detailed oriented, you will inevitably become more conscious of what you spend your time/money on.
The first time I reviewed what I spent on my debit card in the US, my jaw dropped how much BULLSHIT I was spending my money on. Did I really spend 70% of my income on going out to eat? Do I even remember what that tasted like? I was spoiled and stupid, unconsciously spending most of money on temporary cravings and desires.
I want to shout out Billy (If you’re reading this, wadddup!) for inspiring meto use EXCEL to track every cent I spend everyday.
I know I spent 34E at that Korean BBQ Spot last month, and .70 cent for a Croissant today. Knowing these details, where I must spend and where I can spend, gives me the power to change my spending. I don’t want to be making statements like “I don’t have enough money,” or “Yes I can spend 190E on these platforms” based on vague assumptions on what my bank account looks like, I know for a fact down to the cent how I much I have, where I can spend, where I should not.

Having the feeling of control removes my anxiety. Even times I break even and after spending my money on (a) my survival, I don’t have to have an anxiety attack because I am not looking for where that money went. I spent it well.
Now spending my leftover money this month in a weekend in Prague or saving it for emergencies?….That’s a decision yet to be decided.

2. Forgiveness
Stop blaming yourself. Stop blaming those who have hurt or seemingly hindered you. Stop blaming your childhood. Just shut the fuck up about it and move forward.

Those who know me well know that my relationship to my parents is not an ideal, loving one. While I probably needed love and encouragement, what I got was unintentional insult, pressure, and a self-created inner voice of self-doubt and negativity. It would be so easy to blame my parents for every shortcoming.

“If my parents didn’t pressure me to go into healthcare, I would’ve followed my initial interests in Human Resources or Communication and maybe finding a career in Berlin would be easier.
If my parents didn’t insult me so much, I wouldn’t have all this self-doubt every time I come across new challenges.
If my parents gave more of fuck about me, I wouldn’t feel so lonely when thinking about family.” Etc.

After 10+years of deep-rooted animosity and angst, I finally forgive my parents for their shortcomings because I know they love me. Fuck what I perceived to be a past bad relationship with my family. In actuality, I have e v e r y t h i n g because of family. This experience, this freedom, this life was granted to me because my parents worked their ass off to give it tome. They are not perfect, and I have hurt them in deeply regrettable ways due to this misunderstanding. Fuck how they treated me sometimes, I would change every bad decision or hateful word I have made/said in the past that had hurt them.

But I can’t change anything that has happened in the past. All I have is this moment. I can be bitter and stagnant, or I can keep moving forward with love and optimism. I forgive myself for being an asshole, and I forgive my parents for not being “perfect” (I mean what is perfect anyway?).

I am beginning to feel like I understand life through the understanding of self more. It’s really not easy and it’s just the beginning of a lifetime of struggles and obstacles I am yet to face (and overcome!).
Honestly, I am really proud I’ve come this far!

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Find Frances on Instragram @francesjdae