Even if you aren’t the type to make New Year’s resolutions, I advise you to make this one small promise to yourself: Be grateful. Every day.
With its many benefits to our health and happiness, gratitude may be the very best gift we can give ourselves at any time of year. Studies show that counting our blessings results in:
- More restful sleep
- Better eating habits
- Less depression
- Improved relationships
- More calm in the face of adversity
- Better self-care
- Greater happiness
So, how can we embark on this new journey? Starting a gratitude journal is a great way. Each morning—or, if you wish, each night before going to sleep—write down three people or things for which you feel grateful, and why. This small step will go a long way toward giving you a positive mindset for the day, helping you roll with the punches with things go awry, and calming your mind for a good night’s rest.
Gratitude in action
As a next step, putting our thankfulness into action can heighten the benefits, to others and to ourselves.
Remember the saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”? Whoever coined that adage certainly knew the utter joy that comes from doing good deeds: cooking a meal for someone, or even a loaf of bread; shoveling a neighbor’s walk; running errands for someone unable to do it themselves; or even just listening to someone’s problems.
Giving money to charitable organizations is another way to express gratitude. If you are short of cash, volunteer, or donate items. Again, you and others will reap the rewards, and your community and society as a whole will benefit.
Along the way, remember to acknowledge how fortunate you are to be able to make a positive difference in others’ lives. Write it down in your gratitude journal!
Like the advice from flight attendants to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others, though, we need first to be on solid ground ourselves before we can truly give to others. Although many of us already express gratitude to ourselves with exercise and healthy foods, financial gratitude too often takes a back seat. And yet, being on a firm financial footing is when we are most empowered to be of service to ourselves and others.
Here are some ideas for cultivating financial gratitude:
- Save for retirement. Sign up for automatic deductions from your paycheck, starting small—with, say, a $100 monthly contribution. Chances are, you won’t even miss it! Later, perhaps during your company’s next open enrollment period, increase the deduction to $110, and so on.
- Set goals, and save for them. Do you want to buy a new car, or take a trip? Transfer money from your checking account into a savings account or mutual fund, a certain—manageable—amount each month with an end date by which you should have the money you need. Or—and I’m not kidding here—save $5 or $10 per day in a jar. Label the jar with the name of the item you are saving for and how much you want to save. Add to the jar daily, and see how quickly it adds up!
In today’s fast-paced world, we can forget to experience the beauty that life presents to us every day: the smile of a loved one, the wag of a dog’s tail, the sun on a window, the laughter of a child. Stopping to smell the roses can sweeten our lives in countless ways, and, in turn, make the world a better place for all. What better way could there be to live in 2018?