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The Positive Effects of Gratitude on Your Financial Life

November 27th, 2019 | 2 min. read

By Jacob Schroeder

The Positive Effects of Gratitude on Your Financial Life

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, expressing gratitude is a year-end tradition. But what if you were to make giving thanks a daily routine throughout the year, every year?

Research has shown gratitude can have an immensely positive impact on our lives. It can boost our physical and mental health, make us more productive, improve our decision-making, help us control our emotions and build valuable relationships. All of which can directly benefit our financial well-being, too.

Many people want a quick and easy way to amass wealth. This is evidenced by the countless financial products out there that wouldn’t exist if there weren’t enough people to convince to buy them. 

The truth is your behavior will have a greater influence on your wealth than any product. Given that, it’s worthwhile to consider the benefits of gratitude and how they can ultimately make you a better steward of your money – for the benefit of yourself and for others.

Greater life satisfaction

Studies by psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough show that people who counted their blessings had a more positive outlook on life, exercised more, reported fewer symptoms of illness and were more likely to help others.  

This is further supported in work by psychologist Nathaniel Lambert that finds stronger feelings of gratitude are associated with lower materialism. Gratitude enhances people’s satisfaction with life while reducing their desire to buy stuff.

Together they make the foundations for a prosperous future. When you’re in a good place, you’re more likely to engage in the positive behaviors – and avoid the negative – that can carry that good feeling forward. There’s a reason why positivity is a common trait among successful people.

Stronger willpower and improved decision-making

A team of researchers from Northeastern University, the University of California, Riverside, and Harvard Kennedy School found that gratitude can make you more patient with your money. Participants in the study were given the choice between receiving $54 immediately or $80 30 days later. Those who were feeling grateful exercised greater self-control and were more willing to wait for higher amounts of money in the future.

The implications for your financial life are clear. Patience and control over one’s emotions are necessary ingredients for building wealth. Gratitude can be used as a tool to avoid impulsive financial choices and make better long-term decisions.

Higher productivity and relationship building in the workplace

Gratitude can also have a positive effect on our careers, which can lead to a variety of financial gains.

For one, it inspires us to be more productive. In one study led by psychologists Adam Grant and Francesca Gino, when the boss of a fund-raising call center expressed gratitude to employees for their effort, the amount of calls made by these employees suddenly jumped more than 50% the following week.

This should certainly make an impression on you if you’re a manager or company owner.

Expressing gratitude is also a two-way street. Further experiments by Grant and Gino have shown those who helped someone and then received an expression of gratitude were more likely to help again in the future. Giving thanks to a superior, therefore, could be one way to earn continuous support in advancing your career and potentially increasing your salary.

More noble use of your money

The ultimate goal of financial planning is to allocate money toward the things we value most, one of which is often the welfare of others. Studies on gratitude conclusively show that it motivates people to give back or pay it forward, including financially.

An article published by the American Psychological Association makes the case gratitude facilitates generosity. People in the study who were feeling gratitude shared more money than others, regardless if the recipient was a known individual or stranger.

Final thoughts

Gratitude essentially costs you nothing. Just your time and effort. Yet the benefits are so valuable. Expressing gratitude, whether it is writing down what you’re grateful for or telling someone thank you, can improve your mood, outlook on the future, relationships, self-control and desire to help others.

It should come as no surprise that the benefits provided by gratitude are also essential ingredients to building wealth. The more you spend on gratitude today, the more you will have to be grateful for in the future.