Being thankful doesn’t have to only mean piled-high plates, saying a quick grace and the yearly ritual we have all come to know in the United States as Thanksgiving. The ritual of giving thanks has benefits for all of us, all-year round. Apparently, gratitude is also good for your mental health, your physical health, and your wallet.
Gratitude is good for your mental health, your physical health, and your wallet.
Gratitude and the Self-Made Wealthy
Thinking about gratitude and its range of beneficial effects reminded me of an event I attended a while back in San Francisco where I had the chance to interview Personal Finance author and motivational speaker Jean Chatzky. Ms. Chatzky drew from a research study of over 5,000 self-made wealthy people, trying to pinpoint the elements to their success. Gratitude, and the associated relationship to connectedness, played an important role in their journey to wealth.
Being thankful is an important factor in being connected – which the self-made wealthy instinctively know all about.
The Pets, Food and Sex Connection
One tidbit from the interview that has stayed with me was the revelation that according to her research, pets, food and sex ranked very high on most peoples’ gratitude lists. If you have not yet journaled about your perfect dog, fabulous dining experiences or best first date (or other happiness-inducing events), you might want to first try writing in a diary or Gratitude Journal (a physical notebook or app filled with your own personal thanks). In her book, The Difference: How Anyone Can Prosper in Even the Toughest Times, she outlines four other distinct ways to increase your personal gratitude.
If you are not feeling grateful, try using these words every day: gift, giver, lucky, fortunate, graced and thankful.
The Super-Simple Journal
- Once a day: notice the good things in your life – and write down three positive things you’ve noticed. It can be anything. Get as detailed as you can.
- Once a week: read back to yourself what you have recorded.
Thankfulness and the Gratitude Movement
When asked what is the simplest thing anyone can do to raise their “gratefulness quotient” and in turn, hopefully their overall net worth, the first recommendation is invariably to write in a Gratitude Journal. This method of increasing thankfulness has been mainstream for some time (and part of the bigger Gratitude Movement), and like many self-help or new-age style techniques, it is hard to track down the exact beginning of its use. Interestingly, there have been a surge of tweets about it in the last year and many personal tributes to its success.
The Research Behind the Gratitude Journal
There is, however, ample research to back up the success of the practicing gratitude by journaling, and the deceptively simple act of being more grateful. Professors Emmons and McCullough, at UC Davis and U of Miami respectively, are two leading researchers who are tackling the science of thankfulness. As reported elsewhere, the possible side effects of having an attitude of gratitude are not just emotional but also physical, as well.
Emmons’ research shows that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of optimism, alertness, energy, enthusiasm and determination, all of which play in important role in being financially successful.
Finding Financial Peace
The site PositivePsychology.com lists 28 benefits for feeling grateful. They quote research from Tsang, Carpenter, Roberts, Frisch, & Carlisle (Psychological Science, 2014), that states that people who are the most grateful tend to be less “financially impatient” and tend to be less materialistic and also tend to enjoy greater life satisfaction.
The study looked at people who wrote about times that made them feel happy or neutral. These participants tended to opt for immediate payouts, and those who wrote about gratitude showed an increased willingness to wait longer to receive more money. Delayed gratification, keeping to a long-term financial plan (as in five years or more), and being patient financially are usually tied to financial success in the long run.
Can You Buy Happiness (for $1.99)?
For iPhone users, there’s a very popular $1.99 gratitude app from a company aptly called HappyTapper. $1.99 is a low-cost gamble on the proposition that you might feel happier in time– it’s simple and cheap to use, so you won’t lose much by at least trying it out.
To completely butcher and misquote Lao Tsu, “The journal of a thousand steps must begin with a single step.”
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This post is part of the March 2022 Movement on Mental Health. The Plutus™ Foundation Impact Series highlights articles, podcast episodes, and videos from participating content creators on a different theme every month in 2022.
Disclaimer: All the information provided above and on this site is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional investment, legal, or tax advice. You should conduct your own research or consult with a professional financial advisor when investing.