The headline in the business section of the Oct. 10 Seattle Times caught my eye, “Gratitude Can Help Your Financial Life,” by Liz Weston of Nerd Wallet. I’ve long been aware of the many benefits of a perspective of gratitude, but finances? I read on. One of the core ideas was that gratitude helps us focus on what we have rather than what we lack — which can translate into more saving, comfort with delayed gratification and less drive to overspend to ‘keep up with the Joneses.” Gratitude was also associated with healthy, respectful relationships and good communication between couples finding alignment in financial decisions.
In truth, research abounds showing that people who are grateful are happier; they feel less stress, have stronger immune systems, experience healthier relationships, and do better professionally. It can improve both your mental and your physical health.
I was raised to always look for the best in people and in every situation – (nod to my parents). This ethic has served me well in life and in my career. I am hardwired to look for shared values and common ground rather than focus on differences. There is an undeniable connection between gratitude and generosity. That is the holy grail in the nonprofit world, where we work to marshal resources to address social needs.
The completion of the Edmonds Waterfront Center (EWC) is a shining example of what is possible when a community comes together behind a common vision. I know conflict sells newspapers and movie tickets, but it does not unite communities. The fuel that motivated thousands of people to share their treasure, time and talent to make EWC possible was a spirit of gratitude. People are willing to share their blessings when they see them as blessings. The result has been a spectacular gathering place on the shore of Puget Sound, where people of all ages and from all walks of life, can connect, learn, and celebrate.
So how does this relate to gratitude? This social emotion strengthens relationships, and it can be traced back to early human evolution as a key survival value — helping others and being helped in return. The army of volunteers, donors and supporters, who have made all this possible, undoubtedly come from a place of gratitude and generosity.
The good news is that we can all improve our lives by fostering an ethic of gratitude. Our lives are filled with blessings as well as challenges. By focusing on the blessings, we build our resilience, preparing us for the hard stuff. If this does not come naturally to you — practice. Many people have found keeping a gratitude journal helpful. As a start, here is your assignment: Tell an important person in your life two things you appreciate most about them.
What do you have to lose? The upside is happiness, stronger relationships, less stress, improved physical health, improved mental health, and yes maybe even enhance your personal finances.
— By Daniel Johnson, CEO, Edmonds Waterfront Center
PS: To my wife Elaine – After 44 years together, you are the greatest blessing in my life. I love your ability to delight in life’s smallest pleasures and your easy laugh.