When you think of "appreciation" you can look at it in the quantitative realm - the increasing value of your financial assets. It is important that you look at your entire net worth and make sure that it is growing. This means reconnecting with what you have and ascertaining what changes need to be made given your current situation and your overall goals. Whether this is assessing the equity in your home or the allocation strategy within your retirement accounts or investment assets - take a look at how, and why you have them, and what they are doing for you. Are there changes that need to be made?
You can also look at it as a qualitative element - the feelings of gratitude for one's resources and circumstances. Studies have shown that the appreciative mindset will likely be the best predictor of increasing wealth and well-being in your life.
In "The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life," Lynne Twist writes that appreciative thinking is the opposite of scarcity thinking: "When your attention is on what's lacking and scarce-in your life, in your work, in your family, in your town-then that becomes what you are about." Jackie Kelm, author of Appreciative Living, also believes that what we pay attention to grows. She wrote, "Our attention will create our experience, and if we focus on lack, we create more lack."
Why is it that we tend to focus on the negative? The media is predominately doom and gloom. We dwell on our inabilities and what we don't have "enough" of. Whether it is at the macro level (what is happening in the worldwide market) or at the micro level (personal circumstances, challenges) - this is where we focus and thus where our consciousness resides. Unless we take these thoughts captive (and turn off the outside noise) we will likely hone in on limitations and obstacles rather than all the possibilities at our disposal.
By reflecting on the positive aspects of our lives and the value of what we already have, we will likely create more of the same. According to Twist, "What you appreciate appreciates." And Kelm similarly explains, "What you focus on grows." Try it - share what you appreciate about someone and watch what happens.
How can we nurture this positive cycle? Reflect on specific areas of your life - family, community, finances or health. Ask yourself what you value most in each of these areas? What are your current "riches" in each of these areas? What are the current successes you are having? Spend some time thinking about it, write it down and share it with someone close to you.
This exercise will help you appreciate what you currently have and create a picture of what that happy and satisfying life will look like as you move through the years. The clearer your pictures become, the more it will guide the choices you make and what you will experience.
Sometimes it is just a matter of perspective that can enhance our ability to appreciate things. To start go to www.globalrichlist.com and type in your annual income. This holiday season - enjoy the opportunity to volunteer at a shelter, visit a nursing home. Are you a reader? Pick up a copy of "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand. Putting things in perspective - we truly have so much to be grateful for!
Look at your assets differently. Include your health, relationships, community; your resourcefulness, creativeness along with your home equity, investment assets, business entities, and start looking at appreciation from a holistic viewpoint. Let me know what you learn.
Danielle Howard is a Certified Financial Planner ™ practitioner and Financial Life Planner®. Her office is located at 23300 Two Rivers Road in Basalt. Visit her at www.howardfinancialresources.com or call 927-3909. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advisory services offered through Lighthouse Financial LLC, a registered investment advisor. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research Inc., a broker/dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and HFR are not affiliated.