During the last two months, I’ve asked you to undergo a financial check-up and write a prescription for improving your financial health. If you’re like me, these exercises can turn up mistakes you’ve made and show you what you should be doing differently. Those mistakes can be upsetting and discouraging, but beating ourselves up about poor choices or difficult circumstances won’t help us create the lives we want.
Turning our attention toward the positive aspects of our lives, no matter what challenges we may face at the moment, will serve us well.
“Gratitude enriches human life. It elevates, energizes, inspires and transforms. People are moved, opened and humbled through expressions of gratitude,” says Robert Emmons, University of California, Davis, professor and author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. “Without gratitude, life can be lonely, depressing and impoverished.”
I would like you to pause, reflect and express gratitude for what is working in your life. The positive psychology movement shows that people who consistently express gratitude are:
More likely to improve their health.
Better able to deal with adversity.
More connected to other people
And the result is that they are happier.
Sometimes, we are so focused on our goals that we fail to reflect on our accomplishments. This can leave us in a constant state of dissatisfaction. Do you have a habit of doing this? If so, it’s time to develop an attitude of celebration and gratitude.
Begin practicing gratitude by making a list. Select a new notebook or journal for this project. A few pieces of paper can work just as well.
I’m grateful for Moleskine notebooks. The way they feel in my hands reminds me that I live in a world where artists create joy through sensory experience.
Your journal entries will be simple, but they can have a profound impact. Each day – set aside a regular time in the morning or evening – list what makes you feel grateful. You may need to start small: a walk in the sun or a warm cup of coffee, for example. From there, continue your list. Add to it until you can’t think of anything else. Then, leave a space for one more.
Each time you reach a milestone on your way to a goal mark it with a small celebration.
Recently, a friend told me that he and his wife have pizza every night they reach a milestone. They take time to recognize their progress, and a small splurge makes them feel good. These rituals of celebration can serve as motivation and reward. They are significant reminders of our progress.
For me, this quote from Oprah Winfrey sums up the value and importance of gratitude: “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.”
firstname.lastname@example.org. Durango resident and personal finance coach Matt Kelly owns Momentum: Personal Finance. www.personalfinancecoaching.com.