With Thanksgiving only one week away, I thought it would be good to have a financial Thanksgiving post;
The attitude of being thankful is one of the foundational feelings we can have for helping us do well financially. When we are thankful for the things we have, we are content and are not in the “I’ll just be happy if I have…” mindset. Contentment and satisfaction are internal feelings; they can’t be obtained from external sources usually.
When I want something that is beyond my basic needs, I am telling myself that I will be more happy and satisfied when I have obtained it. We all know that after we have purchased something we desperately wanted, in a short while we will want something else again. It seems as if the cycle never ends. Emotions really come into play in this game, much more than logic (except of course when I want new tools 🙂 ). Marketing firms know just how to craft ads to make us feel incomplete, and to suggest filling that gap with their products. We are emotional beings, and our emotions can often fool us.
If I had been a more thankful person, I would have avoided purchasing many things I have over the years, and I would have borrowed a whole lot less money. In the end I would have had more money in savings and investments, and I probably would have given more money away too- bringing more joy to others and myself. When I own fewer things, I love having more time on hand, since everything comes with a maintenance schedule. Thanksgiving might be the best American holiday, for it is a great reminder for us to be thankful for all the things we have. Being thankful and content with what we have makes us happier people, something we all want. It is really sad that the day after Thanksgiving is the largest shopping day of the year. In addition, it can be one of the worst times to buy things, since I reported earlier that prices go up on many items during the Holidays.
The most quoted Bible verse of all times is probably the 23rd Psalm, since it is read at almost all funerals, it starts out: “The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want” (NKJV) and “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing” (NIV). Most versions have worded it similarly to these two– Christianity and other religions talk about contentment, but when we don’t feel contented we often live a financial lifestyle we can’t afford, or are too materialistic. It has been said that materialism is to buy things we don’t need, with money we don don’t have to impress people we don’t like.
Recently my pastor in his monthly congregational email had a few interesting research factoids about the connection of thankfulness to happiness: One of the exercises that psychologists gave to people was a gratitude journal; taking time every day to write in a gratitude journal things for which they were thankful. What psychologists found was that if people took time to conscientiously count their blessings every day, life satisfaction markedly increased in just six weeks.
Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology, has tested similar practices at the University of Pennsylvania and in huge experiments that he’s conducted over the Internet. Seligman believes that the single most effective way to turbo-charge our joy is to make what he calls a “gratitude visit.” This means writing out a testimonial thanking a teacher, or a pastor, or a grandparent, or anyone to whom you owe a debt of gratitude. Then visit that person and read your letter of appreciation to him or her. Seligman said that the remarkable thing was that people were measurably happier a month after they paid a gratitude visit to the person to whom a debt of gratitude was owed. Saying thanks produces ongoing joy.
Seligman also recommends what he calls “three blessings,” taking time each day to write down three things that went well that day (in other words, counting your blessings), taking time to journal what’s going well and intentionally savoring good moments by journaling them. Why not consider creating a gratitude journal, paying a gratitude visit, or savoring good things in your life by journaling them?
It seems that thanksgiving is not only good for our finances, but our general overall well being. Happy Thanksgiving to you!
Please comment below, I would love to hear your comments, from any perspective that you have.