Mr. I Have Nothing To Sell You says he’s struggled to feel grateful for most of his life. And it’s not that he doesn’t have anything to feel grateful for; he does. It’s just, it doesn’t register. So he began experimenting with all sorts of different ways to practice gratitude. The journaling, mediations, books, things like that. But nothing really stuck. Not to say those things don’t work wonders for some people, but they didn’t do much for Alex.
Finally, though, he came across something pretty powerful. And it has to do with a tweet he sent out a while back, which said: “When I was 20 I wanted to be a millionaire; now that I’m a millionaire, I want to be 20.” Now extrapolate that out. Alex knows, like when he’s 85, even if he’s worth $1 billion by then, he’d happily give up all that money to be young and poor again. It’s a perspective he calls The Grandfather Frame. And so, in Alex’s own words, here’s how it works.
“If you’ve ever looked at pictures from your past,” he says, “and you look at where you grew up or you look at your old room or you look at a picture of you with old friends doing something; we tend to feel these feelings of nostalgia. And I try to quantify like what is nostalgia? So to me, nostalgia is gratitude in the present for past circumstances. For whatever reason, we’re able to kind of look past all the minutia of how we were feeling, our moods, and we’re able to see big picture the things that we are grateful for.”
And yeah, we all have childhood trauma and things we wish were probably different, right, but no matter how bad it was, we all had moments that, when we’re reminded of them with a picture or a song or something, we have this gratitude bubble up inside us. So anyways, Alex wakes up and tries to think to himself, “If I were 85 years old and I got to go through a time machine and be back in my body as I am now to experience my life from my 85 year old self, seeing it again?”
“And I’m like, ‘Ah, this is so nice. I don’t have the joint pain. My wrists don’t have arthritis.’ And then I get up and I’m like, ‘I remember when we used to live here.’ Even looking at Leila this morning, I was thinking to myself, ‘This is my wife right at the beginning of our marriage; we’re only six years in.’ And we wake up and walk over to have our coffee in the morning and I’m like, ‘Isn’t this so nice? I remember when we used to have coffee here together. This is great.’”
And it just keeps going. He looks out the window and thinks, “Man, look how young Vegas looks. It doesn’t have all the buildings and skyscrapers and flying cars.” And this little game he plays with himself creates major gratitude for all these itty-bitty moments he normally wouldn’t think twice about. Alex applies that same frame of mind to business as well. When one of their e-learning programs (under the Acquisition.com umbrella) has a fire to put out, it’s like, “Isn’t this neat that we get to solve this problem together?”
It works so well, Alex believes, because you’re tricking yourself to see the world through rose-colored glasses. Of course the wrinkly old incontinent you is gonna look back on the younger you with fondness, right? “It’s really shifted the way I see things,” Alex says. “And also, it’s really decreased the amount of anxiety and stress I have over outcomes because I know it’s not gonna matter the long run. Not only that but it gives you this business wisdom because you stop focusing on making quick money right now.”