In the midst of the hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays, we are also reminded how important it is to pause and reflect on our many blessings. (A growing body of research indicates this practice has a tremendous influence on the quality of our lives—for an example, click here)
As I reflect on the last 18 years since founding Money Quotient, I’m am struck by the number of wonderful relationships that have developed and blossomed because of our mutual interest in “life planning.” Not only are we drawn to this work because we truly want to make a difference in the lives of those we serve, but we also discover that we become the beneficiary of untold riches—“so much wealth that it’s impossible to calculate its value.”
For example, Bob Cole was one of the early adopters of MQ tools and processes. He joined our community in 2003, and has been a tireless cheerleader ever since. His belief in us and what we do helped to strengthen our belief in ourselves. Bob retired from financial planning in 2014, but continues to lead by example and offer his support. He has been a great teacher as well, and I can always count on him to meet life head-on with candor, humor, and grace.
When Bob retired, one of his new endeavors was to start a blog (https://livinginthebucket.blogspot.com) to record his reflections on LIFE:
The purpose of this blog is to share real life perspectives on simple concepts. These observations are based on 46 years of working and owning a Financial Planning Practice, specializing in Life Planning. My Goal is to help individuals contemplate their use of resources to actualize their daily life, so there is no need for a "bucket list", or in other words, to Live IN the Bucket each and every day.
With Bob’s permission, I’m reprinting one of his posts that is particularly relevant to the season and the value we experience when making gratitude a practice.
An Attitude of Gratitude
Have you ever noticed that we spend too much time and energy on what we want that we sometimes forget to be appreciative for what we do have? Janice Kaplan in her book The Gratitude Diaries, says “we tend to pay too much attention to what’s wrong than what’s right.”
Guilty as charged. You too (if your honest)!
An accomplished journalist, with a successful writing and broadcasting career, Ms. Kaplan set out on a project to daily (she later changed it to weekly) keep a journal for one year. In this journal, at the start of each day, she would write down three things that she was grateful for. According to her, the endeavor proved surprisingly life changing.
One of her findings was that you don’t need good events in your life in order to feel gratitude, but instead must learn the habit of reframing whatever happens to make sure “that they see the good in what they have” Could it be possible that we could find happiness (which is a door opener for gratitude) by completing a structured, clearly defined program? If so, then why not add it to the “Fulfillment” support exercises (like an exercise program) I advocate in this column?
Over the past year and a half, I have struggled with health issues. I have actually coped with them rather well. I am now cancer free for almost a year and my Parkinson’s continues to remain stable. Part luck (with a great team of healthcare practioners), part attitude, it has always struck me on how much those medical professionals stressed the importance of the attitude portion. I credit maintaining that attitude to the learned habit of reframing.
In my employment years, I was a financial/life planner. To me, if you can break something down to a system, then it is up to the person to execute the parts, thus assuring the outcome. Could abstracts like gratitude be treated the same way? Kaplan says “the central theme was recognizing what is in your control and what isn’t-and acting on the one and ignoring the other. Anxiety comes from wanting what we can’t control and happiness comes from being positive and looking for the good”.
Try it for a week….take fifteen minutes to WRITE down three items you are thankful for at that moment (could be that hot cup of coffee at your side). Then when the negative energy visits, use the journal as a reminder how lucky you really are.