Is there something that really makes you angry? I mean, something or someone who completely steams your tea?
If so, consider yourself lucky. You have an amazing opportunity.
I know this might sound crazy but (at least, in my case) an old resentment turned into a huge opportunity and one I never saw coming.
Before I go into the details, I have to give you some background.
When I was in college, I played snare drum in the school marching band. Even though the drum weighed heavy on my shoulder and the drills took hours and hours of practice in the scorching sun, there were perks.
After all, who says “no” to dressing up like a complete moron and marching around in front of 30,000 people on Friday night? Those other poor fellows who were busy guzzling beer at the fraternity house didn’t know what they were missing…..poor saps.
As thrilling as the marching band was, I started getting ticked off soon after football season began. I was angry that the team got all the glory. What did the lowly drummer boy get? Nada.
As each game passed, I become more and more irritated.
The players got first-class treatment all the time. They traveled to exotic places like Hawaii. I went to Barstow.
They got their own special meals. I ate Frosted Flakes.
They got special parking spots for their cool rides. I bought a 10-speed.
And do I need to mention who met all the women? Here’s a hint…..it wasn’t me.
I suffered through the football season and basketball season. Then, I hung up my marching band uniform for good.
But while I turned in my sticks, I held on to my resentments.
As a matter of fact, I didn’t attend another college football game for 30 years.
That all changed last weekend and this is where I discovered a great opening.
For a variety of reasons, I found myself sitting in the old stadium watching my alma mater kick the tar out of New Mexico State. I enjoyed it.
Oh….I’m not talking about the game. I could have cared less about that. What I really loved seeing was the marching band again. There they were. The uniform design was exactly the same as it had been 30 years ago.
But I noticed something very strange.
Those uniforms looked beautiful to me.
These kids didn’t look dumb in their uniforms at all. They were cool. And they were having a great time – probably more fun than the players. The band was rocking out, jumping around, laughing.
This was far different from what the players were going through. Even though my team was winning, I could hear the crack of one helmet on another just like the sound my teeth used to make on those oh-so crunchy Frosted Flakes of yesterday. Yikers. That had to hurt.
Exactly at that moment, my resentments disappeared. I realized how fortunate I was to have been in the marching band.
I remembered that I did have good times a plenty while I was marching around out there in the hot sun. I made good friends and I got to play music. Another bonus was that there weren’t any 300 pound gorillas chasing after me trying to turn me into a pancake. And from a practical standpoint, I was able to graduate college in 4 years because of my participation in the band.
Besides all that, nobody forced me to play. I could have quit anytime I wanted to.
Yes, I had a lot to be grateful for. I never had any reason to resent anything about it.
Why didn’t I see this while I was in school?
What an opportunity I missed. Rather than enjoy more of my time in the band, I resented the players for having the perks they got. What a shame. What a waste.
I was a bit ashamed of myself.
What did my resentment cost me?
I wasted precious time in anger. It cost me a lot of life.
As hard as I try, I can’t think of any way this rotten behavior cost me financially. Yet it’s still relevant to you as a personal finance enthusiast.
Because, if you are like me…you aren’t after more money for money’s sake. My guess is that you want to improve your financial life because you want to have…well….more life.
My guess is that you want more freedom and happiness. That’s why money is interesting and important to you.
Well….what I’m talking about is a way for you to have that and it won’t cost you a penny. You don’t have to buy any books or tapes. You won’t have to go to any weekend seminars either. So what do you have to do?
It’s simple. You have to get rid of your resentments.
While this may seem like a tall order, I think there are a few tools you can use to make this a simple task:
1. Write down all the things you resent. What really ticks you off?
Your husband? Kids? In-Laws?
That you don’t live in Malibu?
That the Beatles broke up 40 years ago? What is it that boils your oil? Write it down.
Now, as terrible as these things are, consider for a moment if there weren’t any silver linings in those dark clouds. Have any of the things you resent so much really been a blessing in disguise? For example, let’s say you lost a great job several years ago because your boss, Eric Slick, was dishonest and blamed his mistakes on you.
Did anything good come out of it? Did you find a better job? Did you meet some great people? Do you have a better working situation now? Surely something good came out of it. If you can’t come up with something, pretend you are interviewing a friend who went through what you did. What silver lining would you point out to you friend?
2. Write it all down. It won’t do you much good if you only have this conversation in your head. I’ve found that writing has some magical connection that allows me to really get value from these kinds of exercises.
3. Write a thank you letter to the person, place or thing expressing gratitude for the new gifts you reaped. Don’t worry, you’re not going to mail this letter – ever. It’s just a way for you to really bring the message home – to yourself.
This exercise helped me so much. Living with anger is such a damn waste. It’s a terrible way to live. Have you held on to resentments too long? Did it have a financial cost? What other ways did it cost you? How did you finally overcome those old resentments? How did it change your life?