Being grateful can be hard work.
The media bombards us with so much bad news, and our lives are so full of everyday stresses that it's easy to lose sight of all the good things we have going for us. And when we're really low, gratitude might even feel a little out of reach.
However, as we discuss on today's show, intentionally incorporating gratefulness into your daily routine can create a positive mindset that improves all aspects of your life, from your health and your relationships to your financial planning.
The Science of Gratitude
The human brain is hardwired by evolution for survival. Consciously or unconsciously, we're always on the lookout for the "sabretooth tiger" that's about to pounce or the patch of grass that's actually quicksand. So, naturally, we tend to key in on bad news as a way to alert us to potential dangers and keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.
Unfortunately, marketers and media companies know that too! Negative posts and headlines draw far more attention than positive ones. News and social media pump up negativity to keep us from clicking to the next page or changing the channel. That "doom loop" of stress and fear can be hard to break.
However, scientists have found that mindful gratitude can rewire this negative brain activity. Just saying "Thank you" -- and meaning it! -- activates the areas of your brain that regulate your emotional responses, body temperature, appetite, and sleep. Gratitude can also improve our body chemistry by releasing neurochemicals that make us feel good physically and emotionally.
The downstream effects of gratitude can have major impacts on your wellness. Studies have linked gratefulness to lower instances of depression, anxiety, and stress, better heart health, and better sleep. Managing those things can be important to a successful retirement, especially for seniors who are struggling with the transition away from work. When you have a good handle on worry and other emotions, you could be less likely to let your feelings lead you to rash monetary decisions that could affect your long-term financial security.
Again, being more grateful isn't something that just happens. It takes practice and intention to have a proper perspective on bad news so that you have more room in your head and heart to be thankful.
Journaling is one popular way to make gratitude a bigger part of your day. For many years now, I've started every morning by opening up the notes app on my phone and writing down ten things that I'm grateful for. This simple habit is now as important to my morning routine as brushing my teeth and getting some exercise.
Prayer, meditation, and self-reflection can also be helpful. My podcast cohost, Steve Sanduski, shared that he ends every day thinking about what he's grateful for and reciting a list in his mind as part of his nighttime routine.
I've also tried to make gratitude a part of the culture here at Keen Wealth. As I'm going about my day at the office, I always take time to recognize our incredible team members and also the folks who have trusted us to guide them along their financial journey. We also start every meeting at Keen Wealth by going around the table and asking everyone to share their personal best and their business best from the past week so that everyone can be more aware of what they've accomplished and share in the accomplishments of others.
Happy Thanksgiving from Keen Wealth Advisors
As I scroll back on my gratitude notes from the last year, my family and friends always place very highly. And so do all the wonderful people in our Keen Wealth community: our team members, our clients, and all of you who support the Keen on Retirement, podcast, blog, and book.
I hope that each of you will have lots to be thankful for throughout this holiday season. And if you want to start off 2024 with a more positive perspective on your financial planning, make an appointment to visit Keen Wealth.
Bill Keen is a financial advisor with nearly 30 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he focuses on providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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