As Thanksgiving approaches, we’re reminded of how blessed we are to live in a nation of such freedom and wealth as the United States. Really, we ought to be mindful of this all year long, every time we watch the news and see what it’s like in some other parts of the world.
The vast majority of new clients I talk to feel very thankful for the good things in their life, from a home to family to good health. But to get the full benefit of gratitude (and there are significant benefits), we need to do more than feel thankful. We need to act on that feeling.
The John Templeton Foundation commissioned this national survey on gratitude involving over 2,000 online respondents. While 92% of them either strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement “I have so much in life to be thankful for,” only 48% expressed gratitude regularly. Women were better expressers, on average, than men, at 52% vs. 44%.
A vast majority of respondents felt that gratitude has significant benefits, with 94% strongly or somewhat agreeing that gratitude helps people both be more fulfilled and lead a richer life. Almost as many strongly or somewhat agreed that it also helps a person have friends (93%) and achieve success (85%).
An article in the Harvard Business Review even claims that gratitude is a key to willpower. The author, David DeSteno, explains how the human mind is impatient, and reports on an experiment which found that feeling gratitude was significantly related to a having a high degree of patience. Having the patience or willpower to wait for rewards can conceivably help a person avoid all sorts of problems, from substance abuse to short-sighted investment strategies.
So how do we go from just feeling thankful to really living it, bringing the full transformative power of gratitude to our lives? Remembering to thank people who help you, or whom you simply feel grateful for, is one easy way. Another important way to express gratitude is through generosity. As I’ve said before, this can create a virtuous circle in a person’s life. Replace worry about your finances with a sense of being in control, so that confidence will follow. This can lead to both generosity and greater financial success, which leads to even more generosity, and so on.
I’ve seen many of our clients get into this circle and go from donating, say, a couple of thousand a year to charities and causes they support, to giving $25,000-35,000 per year, really making an impact. It’s become one of the ways I judge our effect on clients’ lives.
We at PartnersInWealth wish you and yours a Thanksgiving filled with gratitude and a holiday season full of contentment and happiness. We would also love to help you into a virtuous circle of your own. To learn more about us, please contact Jim Waters, CFP®, at 713.964.4028 or email@example.com.