03 Apr Financial LIFE Planning: The Astounding Benefits of Gratitude
At SAGE Advisory Group (now SAGEbroadview Financial Planning effective 1/1/2014), among our key messages on our website home page and in our practice is: Financial planning is about resolving life’s complexities – not expanding on them. It’s one reason we call it Financial LIFE Planning.
Those who know me, know that I experienced my own challenging life lesson when my family and I were in a serious car accident in 2008. My husband and two sons were banged up but otherwise fine; my neck was fractured in two places. Recovery was slow and often scary. Thankfully, my healing was mostly successful – a miracle, even, according to my neurosurgeon.
Of course I would never wish the same experience on anyone else but, today, I refer to the event as “my gift of a broken neck.” It was partly a gift, because it gave me the unexpected incentive to seek and employ a series of mind and body healing habits that I continue to practice today. These have proven to be of enormous value to me and my family, well beyond their original intent.
“Life astounds us in an instant, changing all we know.” — Mary Chapin Carpenter
So, believe me, I speak from experience on the benefits of the following “financial planning” strategies:
• Spending time with your tribe
Yes, countless studies indicate that these all are good for one’s physical and mental health. Beyond that, if they are missing from one’s financial LIFE plans, the rest of one’s “homework” is of little value.
“When I was 5 years old, my mom always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – Eric Barker, Barking Up The Wrong Tree
In a multi-part series, I’d like to explore each of these components, beginning with gratitude.
Developing a Great Gratitude Attitude
You know how good it makes you feel when someone expresses gratitude to you. You may not be as aware that you benefit as well by being grateful. Even when it’s a personal, private thankfulness you never share with anyone else, it lifts your spirits and energizes your mind.
This is not just my own observation. For example, in his research and resulting book, “Thanks: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier,” Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California-Davis describes how the simple practice of being habitually grateful can improve one’s emotional and physical health, and strengthen one’s relationships with others.
Dr. Emmons also observes that it’s a habit that may not come as naturally as you might think. When is the last time you took a short break from whatever was occupying your mind, perhaps twisting it into all sorts of convoluted worry-knots, to think of three things you were grateful for, right then and there? Among the strategies I’ve employed since 2008 is to keep a gratitude log to do just that.
Lately, I’ve been using a handy application found at The Art of Gratitude, which helps me remember to practice this good habit daily. But you don’t necessarily have to use any fancy tools. A pen and paper will do just fine.
Mixing Your Meds
By combining regular gratitude with a dose of meditation each day, I find myself much more focused and better prepared to manage the financial and other challenges that life inevitably throws in the way of our best intentions. In my next post, I’ll talk about the benefits of meditation.