a few minutes at the end of each day to write down three things you’re grateful
for. At the end of each week, re-read your entries. Experiencing a
pattern of gratitude is a helpful habit builder.
Benefits of Gratitude
The benefits of gratitude aren’t just limited to increased contentment with your current financial situation, although that is a big part of it. Experts say feeling grateful might affect the kinds of decisions you make today and going forward — which can help set you up for a better future.
Improves Our Relationships With Others
what is gratitude, exactly? Sure, you know it when you experience
it. It’s that warm and fuzzy feeling that you get when someone gives you
a gift or helps you out. But, it’s also more than that. "Gratitude
is an emotion that evolved to cement the need for reciprocity, to get along
with other people,” says Thomas Gilovich, Irene Blecker Rosenfeld Professor of
Psychology at Cornell University. "If I do something good for you, it works
best if you then do something good for me.”
more than just quid pro quo. According to social psychology, it plays an
important role in our relationships. The feeling of gratefulness affects the
way we think and feel about our friends and family over time, and it helps us
build deeper connections with them. "Gratitude cues us into the fact that
we have people around us who care about us, and then it motivates us to
maintain our relationships with those people,” explains Jo-Ann Tsang, Associate
Professor of Psychology at Baylor University.
Helps Us Save More and Spend Less
addition to improving your interactions with others, gratitude can help you on
an individual basis — specifically with your finances. As Gilovich
explains, gratitude helps you focus more on the long term rather than the short
term. That can help stave off impulse and other unnecessary purchases in
often, people don’t save enough for retirement or overspend on things they
don’t need because they let their emotions cloud their judgment. But feeling
content with what you already have shifts your focus away from what you
don’t. That’s a plus. "People who are more grateful tend to be less
materialistic,” says Tsang. "If you’re more materialistic, that might
negatively affect your financial well-being because you’re constantly wanting
bonus? Buying less stuff may mean you have more room for experiences, which in
addition to generally making you happier, also limits how much you compare
yourself to others. "Experiential things are less comparative,” Gilovich
explains, citing his own researchOpens in New Window on consumption behaviors.
"Keeping up with the Joneses is so much a material rat race, less of an
experiential rat race.”
simply, you’re not thinking about whether your friends could afford to go to
Bora Bora when you’re at the beach in New Jersey with your family — it’s much
easier to just sit and enjoy the ocean.
Do You Practice Gratitude?
Even if feeling grateful doesn’t come naturally, there are ways to get better
at it. According to Tsang, even something as simple as keeping a gratitude
journal for a few minutes every day can drastically improve your
happiness. "You might not feel gratitude because there can be personality
differences in how easily we feel happy about the good things in our life,” she
says. "But you can decide to be on the lookout for those things, even just
making a list every day or every week.”
any other skill, the more you practice being grateful, the better you get at it
(and the happier you feel!). And while journaling is part of this
skill-building, the way you spend your money can be just as important.
"It’s easy to imagine [gratitude] being something of a virtuous cycle,” says
Gilovich. "That is, I spend my money on experiences rather than possessions —
that makes me more grateful. And it leads me to pursue experiential consumption
more in turn.”
Grateful Makes You a Better Person
these benefits boil down to one simple thing: gratitude makes you happier. From
how you treat others to how you feel about yourself, learning to be grateful
for what you have is a win-win. "Think about a world where you’re
experiencing the opposite of gratitude: being entitled or being resentful,”
Gilovich says. "You get consumed by it, and therefore you aren’t living up to
your best self.” By shifting your mindset to focus on how you feel about your
life instead of how much money you do or don’t have, you can learn to block out
those negative emotions and live fuller lives.
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