Since we are young, we are taught to be thankful and appreciate what we have. World’s gratitude expert Robert Emmons writes, “it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received”.1 It was also said by Georg Simmel, a sociologist that gratitude is the “moral memory of mankind”. Gratitude can help us achieve greater happiness by acquiring more positive emotions in our day to day lives. It is also a key factor in building and strengthening relationships with others by acknowledging the positive and the good.
But what is the link between money and gratitude?
The connection lies in the fluctuation of satisfaction and materialism.2 There are many who base their happiness on material gain. However, a group of researchers led by James A. Roberts found that there is negative and low level of satisfaction of live when they aim to chase happiness through material gain.3 This brings money into the picture as materialism is often related to the amount of money one has and how it can be spent or saved in order to demonstrate wealth.
As we know, financial health is correlated to the amount of money we have in our accounts, but it is rather a representation of the habits we have built and the mentalities we have towards money. When people become myopically money-oriented, they begin to only focus on what they want and how to get it. A lack of money tends to be a universal problem and without gratitude, it can drag us down into a rabbit hole of how we do not have enough and without it we cannot be satisfied with life. This is where the importance of gratitude kicks in. Meghaan Lurtz, a senior research associate with Kitces.com (financial-planning site) and a past president of FTA (Financial Therapy Association), mentions that showing gratitude forces us to acknowledge what we already have and not focus on what we do not have, because the list would be never ending for all of us.4 According to a professor of psychology Robert Emmons, gratitude has two parts:4
- Us acknowledging the gifts and the benefits we have gotten
- Recognizing that we have gotten help from others and good luck
It helps us realize what is enough for us.
Just like acknowledging and demonstrating gratitude can go a long way in relationships whether it be with a partner, family member, or a friend, it is also important to overcome financial struggles that we face.4 A good balance between spending and saving, present and future can be established with a showing thanks to others and to what you already have.
In this day and age, it is rather easy to focus on what we don’t have because media portrays these new releases as a precious jewel that should be wanted by all. However, practicing gratitude can shift our mindset from a materialistic one to a more realistic and one that is healthier. Practicing gratitude is not a simple task; however, implementing it in our daily lives can help us acknowledge all the good we have received and can do for others and ourselves. It can be as simple as,
- Reflecting on the day and realizing all the kind things others may have done
- Acknowledging the current financial situation from a perspective of what you have and not from what you don’t have.
Thanksgiving is approaching and it is a great time to remind ourselves that all of us need each other.
- Gratitude definition: What is gratitude. Greater Good. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2021, from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/gratitude/definition.
- LaBier, D. (2015, June 27). Surprising links between gratefulness, money and happiness … Surprising Links Between Gratefulness, Money and Happiness. Retrieved November 16, 2021, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-new-resilience/201506/surprising-links-between-gratefulness-money-and-happiness.
- BioSpace, B. S. (2015, March 26). Looking for happiness in all the wrong places, Baylor University study. BioSpace. Retrieved November 16, 2021, from https://www.biospace.com/article/around-the-web/looking-for-happiness-in-all-the-wrong-places-baylor-university-study-/.
NerdWallet, L. I. Z. W. E. S. T. O. N. of. (2021, October 7). How gratitude can help your financial life. The Seattle Times. Retrieved November 16, 2021, from https://www.seattletimes.com/business/liz-weston-how-gratitude-can-help-your-financial-life/.