Gratitude or the Hamster Wheel
Thanksgiving is upon us. It’s the one time of year when we all go around and tell each other what we are grateful for, and it feels wonderful. But while we all know this should be an everyday activity, for some reason we don’t do it.
Catching the elusive gold ring
In terms of money, most people I know and work with professionally (myself included) are focused on trying to grab the next gold ring, rather than allowing ourselves to appreciate what we already have. So we finally bought the big house … but it’s not enough because we need the perfect furniture to furnish it now. Then we need the amazing landscape to go with it. We have become the victim of our own ambition, perfection, and drive.
For those fellow overachievers, this can be really hard. We don’t want to spend too much time celebrating and acknowledging our successes for too long because there’s always another gold ring that we need to strive for. When can we just press pause, celebrate the win and be grateful for what we have? This pattern hit me in the face when my son got a great grade on his social studies test. Great grades aren’t always the norm, so when he blew off his A+ and explained to me that it wasn’t a big deal and that he had more quizzes to study for, I realized that we all need to press pause.
Why don’t we fully savor our pleasures?
It isn’t that we aren’t grateful for what we have in life or don’t know how to express gratitude. It’s just human nature to feel that what we have isn’t enough and that there is always more to do or achieve. I suspect I feel that more than most, after surviving an awful medical diagnosis almost 15 years ago. I’m constantly pushing myself to do more, be more and make a bigger impact. I rarely allow myself time to just sit and enjoy successes, acknowledging simple gratitude. Instead, I tend to jump back on the hamster wheel and start sprinting. But I’m working on it.
Gratitude facilitates happiness
The well-known speaker and author Shawn Achor developed clear research that explains how happiness makes you more successful in both good times and bad. He goes further to show that happiness can come from expressing gratitude to others. Learning how to consistently recognize and share our gratitude allows us to be happy in good times and bad, even when we aren’t succeeding.
Achor frequently talks about pushing yourself to come up with something new to feel grateful for each day, once you’ve exhausted the standards like family and health. Get granular with it; start noticing little gifts like the moment your team member picked you up at lunch, the cool flower that’s blooming in your backyard, the new bottle of Italian wine that your spouse picked up, or the B that your daughter got on her math test. Creating happiness through practicing gratitude is like building a muscle: It takes time and consistency.
Consider making expressions of gratitude a daily habit — something as simple as texting or calling on your way to work just to thank someone for something they did or the impact they had on you. Make it simple. When I’ve done this, it’s made an amazing difference in my day as well as the recipient’s.
Reach out to friends, colleagues or family and let them know you appreciate them. Find that elementary school teacher on Facebook and send a quick message. E-mail an old boss about a performance review from years ago that changed your career for the better. A few weeks ago, I ran into a fellow advisor who hadn’t really known me for long. However, she had influenced me over 15 years ago when speaking at various industry conferences, so I took this opportunity to tell her.
We all need to know that we matter. We all want to know that what we do really matters. We all want to know that we are making a difference in this world. And being reminded that it’s true makes a bigger impact on how we feel than money, every single day. So go ahead, express your gratitude to that one person. Then you’ll both have something to be grateful for.
Meredith Moore is a 20-year veteran of the financial advisory industry who specializes in bringing a customized approach to support the highly personal dynamics that govern her clients’ relationship with money and success. She is the recipient of numerous industry awards and a noted speaker and writer focusing on the intersection of power, money, and gender within relationships. Ms. Moore can be reached at www.artisanfsonline.com.
Meredith C. Moore of Moore and Artisan Financial Strategies, 1125 Cambridge Square, Suite C, Alpharetta, GA 30009 (770) 587–0281.Learn how to take control of your financial life and discover what makes women’s financial planning needs such a unique challenge with our free, white paper: https://www.artisanfsonline.com/.19.htm