The surprising connection between gratitude and money

3 MIN READ | #blog

Gratitude feels good. Studies show that practicing gratitude elevates your mood. It also lowers your blood pressure, reduces symptoms of depression, and improves your sleep.1 Too often, we only express gratitude during holidays or milestones — what would it look like to live with more gratitude every day?

For many, feelings of gratitude are closely tied to our financial well-being, and it’s no surprise. Much like gratitude, financial well-being is something we can make a part of our daily lives. And combining the practices — making a daily habit of expressing financial gratitude — can help keep you focused on your financial goals and motivated to achieve them. These simple exercises offer a place to start for both good habits.

Slow down and breathe

It sounds contrary: if you’re busy and overwhelmed, the last thing you want to do is slow down. Yet a few minutes of slow, deep breathing will calm you down — and have lasting health benefits over time. Researchers at Harvard Medical School suggest deep breathing for ten to twenty minutes a day helps to stop the “fight or flight” response to stress.2

During the deep breathing time, think about things you’re grateful for — financial and otherwise.  If you find yourself distracted, take a deep breath and think of something else for which you are grateful. This time is also a great opportunity to work on your mind-money connection.

Use the power of pen and paper (or thumbs)

Another way to practice gratitude is to write a daily list of the good things in your life. Some people do this by writing in a journal every morning. Others tap a list into their phone at the end of every day. Simply put, writing things down shows you what you have.

The same can be said for your money. One great financial habit is to keep track of your daily income and expenses. Consider including gratitude in this practice, keeping a daily record of financial achievements and successes, however small. Then at regular intervals, whether it’s every week or every month, review your money habits. Are you saving as much as you want? Where can you cut expenses? Are you spending enough on the things that make you happy? Knowing your numbers is the first step in gaining financial clarity.

Take time to see the big picture

When people think about gratitude, they tend to think about the present moment. That’s a wonderful place to start, but it’s also good to remember all the previous moments that led you to today. Expand your grateful thinking to people and memories that feel good to recall.

In your financial life, let big-picture thinking point you toward the life you want to live. What are your financial goals for this year? In five years? And how about in fifty years? Would you travel to an unknown destination without a map? Probably not. Taking the time to envision your future financial self is a way to develop a map for moving forward.

Connect with others

Going back to your gratitude for the people who got you where you are today, now take it a step further. Write them a thank you note. In one psychologist’s study, people who wrote a thank you note to someone from their past experienced “a huge increase in happiness scores.” In fact, the good feeling lasted for an entire month.3

When it comes to money, a financial professional can offer support and expertise. They can help you understand where you’re at today and how to plan for what you want in the future. Working with a financial professional will help you gain greater financial confidence — and give you more things to be grateful for. Maybe one day, you’ll be writing them a thank you note.

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1 28 Benefits of Gratitude and Most Significant Research Findings, Positive Psychology, Oct. 9, 2021

2 Relaxation Techniques: Breath Control Helps Quell Errant Stress Response, Harvard Health Publishing, July 6, 2020

3 Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier, Harvard Health Publishing, August 14, 2021