Look up the history of Thanksgiving in Canada on the internet and you will find that it is difficult to pinpoint, as there are many different opinions. What this tells us is that gratitude has been a very transformative spirit throughout history. The “harvest festival” at the root of Thanksgiving is a ritual that most cultures have had since the dawn of our agrarian roots. Regardless of how good or bad the times were, people took the time to be grateful.
Gratitude focuses on what we have. Anxiety and comparison focus on what we don’t have. There is a powerful message here that can help us transform our finances.
When we are grateful for who/what we have, we appreciate those close to us as well as the possessions that we have. The origin of the word “appreciate” means “to esteem or value highly.” This is the total opposite to “depreciating,” i.e. when we "undervalue or under-rate" people or possessions.
Remember that everything depreciates if left untended. The choice we have to make is where to direct our attention so as to appreciate or lift the value of those around us and the things we treasure.
As kids, did we care about our parents priorities? Did we truly understand taking care of family and friends, renovating the home, investing for the future, maintaining our possessions? We had no interest at all! We wanted short-term experiences and toys that would quickly break down and require replacement with the latest and greatest.
We all eventually face the choice to grow up or to continue chasing the things that grab our short-term attention. Our middle son was relating how his experience of caring for our house while we were away was a lot different years ago than when caring for his own house today!
Gratitude helps us financially in a few different ways:
- When we appreciate what we have and take care of our possessions, we find ourselves not continually comparing with others and wanting everything this world tells us we should buy. If we plan things right, this should result in surpluses that are available for worthwhile purposes.
- When we invest in relationships instead of things we really don’t need, we acknowledge the truth that no one approaches their twilight years wishing they had acquired more stuff! What is the point of our wealth if there is no one with us to enjoy or share it with?
- When we invest in community through our abundance of time and money, we honour the abundant gifts that we have been given.
When we live life in gratitude, having a financial plan in place is simply the most natural thing to do, as it helps us organize all the different pieces of the puzzle so that we can achieve the goals that truly matter to us and to those whom we love.
This column is part of a monthly series courtesy of Richard Vetter, founder of WealthSmart Inc.