“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” (Oprah Winfrey)
Most personal finance advice focuses on practical things like budgeting, saving, and investing. But financial wellbeing isn’t found on a spreadsheet. It really begins with how we approach our financial lives.
The attitudes we have towards money are shaped by many emotional and psychological factors. These include what we learnt from our parents and our past experiences.
But this mindset doesn’t have to be permanent. It is possible to shift our perspective, and a powerful way of doing this is through practicing gratitude.
This might sound like an esoteric concept, but there is plenty of academic research showing that acknowledging and appreciating the positive things in our lives can have tangible benefits for our mental health, physical health, and relationships. And it can do the same for our finances.
For example, a 2018 white paper from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley noted that:
“Many studies have examined possible connections between gratitude and various elements of psychological well-being. In general, more grateful people are happier, more satisfied with their lives, less materialistic, and less likely to suffer from burnout.”
Gratitude and your finances
When it comes to our finances, there are three ways in which gratitude plays a role.
Firstly, it shifts us from thinking about what we don’t have to what we do have. If we are always comparing ourselves to others and focusing on what we lack, that leads us to a scarcity mindset.
That can cause feelings of anxiety, stress, and dissatisfaction about our finances. By focusing on what we can be grateful for, however, we can cultivate a sense of abundance and contentment.
Secondly, gratitude can help us to be more mindful about the way we spend. We’re less likely to take things for granted when we’re grateful for them.
This has the effect of helping us to be more intentional about what we do with our money.
Finally, gratitude can foster a healthier relationship with money. We’re less likely to be consumed by a desire for more when we’re grateful for what we have.
This can assist us to avoid the pitfalls of overspending, debt, and financial stress.
Three practical steps
These benefits from practicing gratitude can be achieved without spending a lot of time or energy. But they do require some deliberate focus.
Here are three practical ways to introduce gratitude into how you approach your finances:
- Keep a gratitude journal: Write down one thing you’re grateful for related to your finances each day. These don’t have to be big things. It could be that you have a steady job or that you were able to afford a haircut. Just regularly reflecting on what you’re grateful for can shift your focus from what you lack to what you have.
- Practice mindful spending: Before any purchase, pause to reflect on why you’re making it. Is it something you see yourself still using in a few months’ time? What might be influencing your decision? Are you just buying something because it’s on sale, or because you actually want it?
- Express gratitude to others: Make an effort to express gratitude to the people in your life who support you financially. This could be your employer, your partner, or family members. By acknowledging the role that others play in your financial life, you can both deepen your sense of gratitude and strengthen your relationships.
To discuss your financial wellbeing, speak to a professional.
Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.