July 9, 2020
Since I wrote my last blog, I have been caught up in a bit of the whirlwind of life! I feel like summer is finally gearing up with the heatwave we have been experiencing here in Upstate New York, we passed the 4th of July holiday, my younger daughter turned 14 years old this week (which seems quite impossible!), and my firm has been very busy with exciting things happening, for which I am very grateful. I traditionally write this blog every other week and post it on Wednesdays, because why not? I like to mark the mid-point of the week and I think most people also like to do the same. But in my whirlwind, I just did not get it done yesterday and, in true fashion, I beat myself up over it last night as I fell asleep far before I usually go to bed. Sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day.
It’s funny how we tend to put so much pressure on ourselves and how easy it is to lose sight of the bigger picture in the process. Even in this precarious time in our history where we are limited by our interactions with family, friends, and the community at large, we are constantly on the go. We have never-ending lists to accomplish, things we want to do, purchases we want to make, places we want to go. It’s no wonder when we have those days where we simply cannot get something done and crash before we want to. But what if we changed the paradigm and shifted the focus toward not having an approach of accomplishment, but rather an approach of gratitude toward what we have and what we are able to do versus what we feel me must do to keep moving forward?
Gratitude by definition is a spontaneous feeling but, increasingly, research demonstrates its value as a practice—that is, making conscious efforts to count one’s blessings. Studies show that people can deliberately cultivate gratitude and there are important social and personal benefits to doing so. It is possible to feel grateful for loved ones, colleagues, animals, nature, and life in general. The emotion generates a climate of positivity that both reaches inward and extends outward. Some of the best known figures in the world have spoken about gratitude. My personal favorite is the wisdom of G. K. Chesterton who famously said, “when it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”
Using gratitude can also be used as a practice to improve your finances. Let’s face it – feeling greater makes you feel richer. Feeling greater can also make you wealthier. Studies have shown that the practice of gratitude can allow you to shift your mindset to appreciate what you have now, reduce your impulses to spend immediately for instant gratification, and adopt the practice of saving for a larger sum or something more grand in the future. Of course, there is a lot of psychology and personal development that goes along with this practice, but consider this – have you ever kept a daily journal of gratitude? Writing down things in that day that you are appreciative of? Try this – take a second journal and keep track of what you spend your money on. Make a list of your needs, wants and big wishes (because we all have them!). If you categorize things you know you need to spend on versus things you have discretionary spending on, you can start to see the vision of how being grateful for what we have now and holding of off things we want can turn into those bigger wishes we all have.
Jack Canfield is a remarkable author (Chicken Soup for the Soul series) and personal development coach, and I have been fortunate enough to attend several of his seminars. My favorite book of his is The Success Principles (order it here from Amazon – you will not be disappointed!) Many of his principles surround the power of habit and that it takes 21 days to create new habits. So, I would ask you to try practicing financial gratitude for 21 days and record your financial habits. Make your want and wish lists and see how you can re-categorize the items on your list and look more closely now at your big wishes and your longer terms goals. Need help starting? Let me know. I am always willing to help! “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” I cannot take credit for that line, it was also G. K. Chesterton, but no truer words could be spoken.
Iris Buczkowski is the founder of Birch Wealth Management (birchwealth.com). Original content provided by Iris is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice.