Oprah does it. So do Ariana Huffington and Tony Robbins.
What these three have in common is not just major success and wealth, they also share a daily habit of practicing gratitude—usually in the morning— to set themselves up for the day ahead. Studies show a connection leading from gratitude to greater happiness to better financial outcomes. When Oprah was challenged that it’s easy to be grateful when you have so much, she replied, “I got everything because I practiced being grateful.”
Since the pandemic, the awareness of the importance of gratitude in our workplaces and personal lives has been on an upswing. People all over the world were forced to focus on small wins and moments of happiness to deal with this challenging period. Researchers in the science of well-being have long established the critical role gratitude plays in improving overall health. Giving thanks is associated with better sleep, lower stress, better interpersonal relationships, and the ability to overcome negative experiences.
But what’s the connection between gratitude and getting our finances in better shape?
There are five main ways feeling gratitude can boost our financial lives:
Making financial decisions from a mindset of ‘plenty’ instead of ‘scarcity’.
When we take stock of all the blessings we already have, we are less susceptible to overspend or overwork, based on feelings of insecurity and trying to “keep up with the Joneses”.
Aligning spending with our values.
Once we identify what brings us the greatest satisfaction, financial decisions become more straightforward. For example, by identifying with a more important and meaningful personal goal, we might be better able to avoid impulse spending.
Better investing habits.
Establishing how much we really need helps us to avoid taking unnecessary investment risks that come with the increase probability of loss. By feeling more content and grounded, we can make more rational investing decisions informed by our goals and risk tolerance.
Understanding our personal definition of financial independence.
Practicing gratitude provides a snapshot of how we see financial independence. For many, being financially independent is less about a final dollar figure than about having ‘time affluence’—more free time to enjoy life.
A safeguard against habitually trading time for money.
In economics, the concept of “diminishing marginal utility” means we get less pleasure from something the more we have of it. The Duchess of Windsor famously said, “You can never be too rich or too thin” but we know that chasing either is a recipe for unhappiness. Avoiding burnout from overwork and money stress will likely lead to greater productivity at work and a higher future income.
The takeaway: Don’t underestimate the power of gratitude. This practice can take many forms such as keeping a journal, or simply starting the day by taking a few quiet minutes to reflect on what you are grateful for. Studies show the benefits of gratitude practice far outweigh any initial feelings of awkwardness or discomfort. Consider creating a “gratitude ecosystem” where you make a habit of sharing positive observations with your network of friends, family, and even co-workers and clients. You’ll be surprised at the positive results!