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How Gratitude Can Change Our Financial Outlook


Gratitude: noun

The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

During this extended season of the pandemic, I feel like I’ve lost all sense of time. The days of the calendar meant absolutely nothing to me. I’m one whose senses are the strongest indicator of what season I’m in and I normally get the information from the outdoors. Because I hadn’t been walking consistently, I didn’t realize we had entered autumn, which is my absolute favorite season. The leaves were not as brilliant as in years past—the smells of fall, cinnamon and nutmeg wafting from bakeries went completely unnoticed by me. I didn’t connect the Christmas trees at Costco and the incessant noises from leaf blowers to 2020 coming to a close because so many other things had intruded.

Households Finances Have Been Hit Hard in 2020

Like millions of other households, mine was touched by unemployment, too. I was worried about my elderly father who was four states away and wondering if he had everything he needed. I was concerned that we could be one incident/accident/hospitalization away from disaster. You and I watch the same news and the losses from COVID, the destruction from the hurricanes and the seemingly relentless despair of my fellow human beings was punching holes in my heart; add anxiety to the mix and it’s a perfect storm for a meltdown. I was sick of celebrities and influencers telling me everything they were thankful for as they sat in front of copper fireplaces with perfectly decorated homes and tasteful color palettes for their Christmas trees. (Of course, they’re grateful. They have everything, I said to myself). I was angry as I heard about huge companies and organizations getting billions of dollars in stimulus money while so many of the people I know and love are struggling.  And hearing one more rich person saying, “Money isn’t everything.”, made me want to scream.  Of course, money isn’t everything but, it IS necessary!

How Gratitude Changes Our Perspective

I realized that thinking these thoughts was not helpful for me; actually, they were downright destructive.  I needed another way of thinking…not some pollyanna self-help jargon, either. Around this time of year, the newscasts tend to end their segments with feel-good stories. I was happy that others were experiencing gratitude but I just wasn’t there until I heard a homeless man who had lost everything…and I mean EVERYTHING, express his gratitude so sweetly and simply. He was thankful for a sandwich that someone had given him. His heart was touched by the fact that another person would recognize him as valuable, spend money, go through a drive-through and seek him out and make sure he had something to eat. More than anything he was hungry for kindness.

We tend to numb our hearts when we’re faced with so many struggles simultaneously; it’s self-protection so that we can put one foot in front of the other and keep going. I know this well. But every once in a while, our hearts need to be thawed to remind us that we’re human and we’re all in this together.

What Can You Do to Cultivate Gratitude?

This man’s expansive capacity for gratitude jogged something loose in my own heart. My incessant rumination on bills, potential disasters, and anxiety about the next month were wreaking havoc in me, so I deliberately thought about something I could do at the moment that could help me. I called my favorite aunt and we talked for an hour. I called a cousin I hadn’t kept up with consistently and before long, he had me laughing until I cried, like when we were teenagers.  I called a friend going through chemotherapy and we just chatted about life, swapped recipes, and just generally caught up. I was in such a better mind space afterward that all I could do was give thanks for the people in my life. The gratitude in my heart took up more room than the worries. I’m not naïve, I know the bills will continue to come, but I’m not going to waste my most precious currency (my minutes, hours, and days) and be robbed of the days, months, and seasons yet to come. I will deliberately take notice of the time that I’m in right now.  And when another celebrity says that money isn’t everything, I won’t roll my eyes so hard that you could hear them, because they might actually be right.

If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are looking for a solution, CESI is here to help. Our counselors are available to assist if you are experiencing job loss, temporary loss of income, or financial hardship during this time. Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.

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