We all know how gratitude can impact our mental, physical, and even spiritual health. But what about our financial health? Can gratitude have an impact on that?
It turns out that being grateful might be one of the best ways to turn a bad financial situation into a good one. In fact, gratitude might be a secret key to a strong and healthy financial life.
In this article, we take a look at how gratitude can transform your financial behavior (for the better). We also break down some basic tips on how you can incorporate gratitude into your life starting today.
Let’s dive in.
Gratitude Encourages Us To Think About What We Have
Our consumeristic society has pounded in our heads the importance of keeping up with the Joneses. It’s all too easy to get caught in the stream of thinking that you need a new car, house, cell phone, and so forth because your neighbor, co-worker, or best friend has one (we’ve all felt like this before… myself included).
“When we make a purchase and/or get what we want, we are temporarily happy and fulfilled. But the reason for happiness is not because we got what we wanted, but because for a brief period of time, we stopped wanting, and thus we experience peace and happiness,” says Adyashanti, an American spiritual teacher who spent years studying Zen Buddhism.
We all know this—material stuff won’t satisfy—but we keep pursuing it anyway. Why? Because we want to get to a place where we finally experience the peace and happiness we crave.
The awesome thing about gratitude is that it encourages us to take a step back and look at what we already have. This is beneficial not only for our mental, emotional, and spiritual health but also for our financial health. If we’re happy with the cell phone we have, we’re not tempted to spend $1,000 on a new one. Instead, we put that money toward retirement, a trip with our family, and so on.
Gratitude Focuses On The Positive
A positive attitude is transformative. As I mention in my book, Mindful Money, ”if we go berry picking in the woods, berries are what we’ll find.”
And here’s what I mean… If we dwell on the negative aspects of our lives, that’s what we’ll find. Dwelling on the negative tells our brain that the negative is important, so it highlights it for us. But when we look for positive things we tell our brain that they are important to us and we completely transform our perspectives on life. The more we choose to contemplate grateful thoughts and the less time and energy we spend on negative thoughts, the more we rewire our brain to seek things to be grateful for.
With gratitude, you can always have joy. You might have to dig, but if you truly seek it, you’ll find it. And it will transform your life, especially if you can be grateful for both your blessings and your sufferings, as Buddha teaches.
Gratitude Helps Us To Think About Our Habits
Gratitude helps us two ways financially.
- It helps us get rid of our desire to keep up with the Joneses (this is the defensive side of gratitude I talk about in Mindful Money).
- It also gives us the energy, determination, and motivation to take concrete steps toward our goals (this is the offensive side of gratitude).
Good financial health is about making consistently good choices with your money. It doesn’t matter where you are now. You just need to be willing to make the sacrifices needed to get where you want to go.
That’s why it’s so important to map out your “here” and “there” so that you can figure out the path you need to take to get from Point A to Point B. And if you’re willing to instill a demeanor of gratitude, you’ll find that the path is even easier than you originally imagined.
Tips for Incorporating More Gratitude Into Your Life
1. Keep a Daily Gratitude Journal
I encourage you to grab a notebook and start a daily gratitude journal. Make a habit out of journaling by doing it at the same time every day (maybe in the morning or evening so you can either look forward to the day ahead or look back on what the day has been).
Within just a few short days, you’ll be able to look back on all the things you’ve been grateful for, which will likely prompt you to think of more and more. You might start with three bullet points and within a few weeks, end up writing 10 or more each day.
2. Thank Your Belongings And Services
Yes, this can seem like an odd thing to do. However, experts suggest that thanking items is a great way to foster gratitude and give up items you don’t need anymore.
My phone bill is one example that comes to mind. Instead of being upset about how large my Verizon bill is every month, I choose to be grateful because it enables me to talk to my wife and mom.
In a similar vein, Marie Kondo, the author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and focus of one of Netflix’s new hit shows, says that thanking items before getting rid of them will help you move on: “It will help you feel better about the decision you’ve made, and it will help you feel more gratitude towards the stuff you help.”
3. Remember That Everything Is A Gift
At the end of the day, everything is a gift. Just the very fact that you are alive today is a gift, so it’s worth being grateful for. Even if you have nothing else, you’ve been given the opportunity to live another day on Earth, and that’s a huge blessing.
In his Stanford commencement address, Steve Jobs reminded us, “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool to help me make big choices in life.”
Instead of dwelling on all the ways your life is going wrong, look for opportunities of gratitude. Not only will you be happier overall, but you’ll slowly start to see a positive impact on your financial behavior!