Winding down our celebratory weekend of freedom, let’s not be remiss to consider the essence of true financial freedom and its deceptive twin. We can easily fall prey to the false notion that “the one with the most toys wins.”
Financial bondage is double-sided. One encompasses too much wealth and the second born of too little. Underlying both is the lie of materialism and the need to accumulate more. If we have the financial means, consuming more has the potential to leave us overly burdened by increasing complexities of legal, financial, relational and physical demands. Just as detrimental is using unsustainable means to accumulate. Through overly leveraged debt or long work hours, we will be held captive in a thorny grip of similar complexities. Both of these extremes will weaken our sense of true worth, diminish our hope for the future and remove our sensitivity to the needs of others.
We can break the financial chains that hold us captive to discontent, greed, waste, envy, deprivation and bitterness. We can have a growing, sustainable economy without self-sabotage. The motivation for innovation and change will have a different heart, pumping new lifeblood into a broken economy.
A tremendous amount of research points to gratitude as the remedy. Not the obligatory, cursory note that we write to a relative for a birthday gift, but a heart-felt realization and expression of thankfulness. It is a chosen attitude that is independent of one’s circumstances.
According to Robert Emmons, Ph.D., in his book “Thanks,” it is more than a feeling. True gratitude has three components. First, there is a willingness to recognize that we are the beneficiary of another’s decision. Secondly, that the giver has intentionally provided a gift, and that personal cost was incurred in some way. Finally, the gift received has value in the eyes of the beneficiary. True gratitude imbues humility. We need to recognize that others have had an impact on who we are, and what we have accomplished. No matter what your net worth, it has been co-created. How does this mindset help us break out, or stay out of financial repression?
When we focus on gratitude, we will radiate contentment. With gratitude, we start to recognize that being consumers is not the ultimate game, but that we are stewards of choice. When we acknowledge that it is not about us, and that others have played a part in our journey of success, we will hold our possessions lightly and look at them differently. When we are satisfied with what we have, we are less likely to feel we “need” more. We find happiness in the enjoyment of what we have. The vicious circle of materialism is broken. When this cycle ceases, we can escalate the giving of our time, our possessions, and our aptitudes. It will have a different look, but a new beneficial cycle begins.
Scientific data shows that gratefulness is a foundational component in resiliency to trauma and tragedy. Faced with financial challenges that seem insurmountable, the practice of gratefulness journaling can help you move through the tough times. No one signs up for a course in adversity, but research shows that our trials and tribulations can result in many facets of positive change. Financially speaking, we can shift from a perspective of lack and focus on the abundance that surrounds us. Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”
To honor those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedoms, we need to enlist in our own personal battle. Are we willing to struggle and overcome our perceptions of victimization, entitlement, material lack and self-sufficiency? Are we armed with the weapons to emerge victorious? With world economies in flux, and lives literally at stake, the time is now, the place is here, the armament is available. Sign up today. Step up and be truly, deeply, intentionally grateful in order to experience true financial freedom.
Danielle Howard is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ practitioner. Wealth By Design, LLC, her financial life planning office is located in Basalt where they take a personal interest in your financial well-being. Visit her at www.wealthbydesign4u.com or call 927-3909. Advisory Services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., A Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and WBD are not affiliated.
True gratitude has three components. First, there is a willingness to recognize that we are the beneficiary of another’s decision. Secondly, that the giver has intentionally provided a gift, and that personal cost was incurred in some way. Finally, the gift received has value in the eyes of the beneficiary.