With Thanksgiving around the corner, you soon will likely reflect on what has made you thankful. Don’t wait for Thanksgiving to count your blessings — take time to appreciate what you have on a regular basis.
Studies have found establishing an ongoing habit of practicing gratitude can significantly improve your finances.
David DeSteno, a psychology professor at Northeastern University says: “Gratitude makes us value the future more and it overcomes our mind’s bias toward immediate gratification. And the more we value future rewards, such as retirement or college savings, the easier it is to resist making impulse purchases.”
He also found that “momentary experiences of gratitude were enough to increase financial patience by 12%.” A crucial element to achieve financial success is the discipline to forgo the immediate satisfaction of short-term spending for the long-term benefit of saving for retirement. Patience is essential for financial success; it takes patience to maintain a long-term perspective amid short-term market fluctuations.
Feeling grateful also enhances your sense of well-being and self-esteem, and can make you happier, more optimistic and less stressed. When you are content with yourself and what you have, you make better financial decisions and are less likely to spend to fill a void. Gratitude also makes you less prone to jealously and envy, resulting in less emotional spending to impress others.
Gratitude enhances motivation and helps you achieve goals. It improves patience and helps you feel more empowered. When you focus on what you are missing rather that what you have, you can become disillusioned. By focusing on gratitude, you see opportunities and possibilities. A positive attitude helps you reach your goals, providing motivation to strive for more ambitious goals.
Practicing gratitude also gives you more resilience when things go wrong. When you feel grateful, it’s easier to keep things in perspective, so problems don’t seem overwhelming.
Grateful people are less self-centered and pleasant to be around. Gratitude makes you nicer, more trusting and more sociable. Expressing appreciation and respect for friends, family and colleagues builds deeper relationships. People want to do business with and work for people who are grateful and happy, rather than someone who is negative and combative. Practicing gratitude and building stronger relationships results in greater productivity, better decision making and reaching goals.
Gratitude naturally results in greater generosity. It makes you appreciate what you have and those who have helped you. To start practicing gratitude, write down what makes you grateful in a gratitude journal several times a week. Take time to express your appreciation to others throughout the day. When things go wrong, focus on lessons to be learned and don’t dwell on the negative.
Jane Young is a fee-only certified financial planner and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org