It’s about more than money: Take time for gratitude


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All year long, this column is about money — how to do better with what you have, how to earn more, how to reduce your taxes and other expenses, and how to maximize your returns.

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All year long, this column is about money — how to do better with what you have, how to earn more, how to reduce your taxes and other expenses, and how to maximize your returns.

But as the year comes to a close, I always find myself in a more reflective mood, doing my best to focus on the things that are much more important than money, investments and taxes.

In my mind, some of those more important things are family, friends, and sharing happiness and joy. And for me, what increases my enjoyment and experience of all those things is being grateful for what I have.

I’m grateful you’re reading this column, when I feel sometimes like a broken record, every year exhorting people to list some of the things for which they feel grateful. But here I am again.

Gratitude is magic. Every person I know who starts their day off by listing two or three new things for which they feel grateful is happier, more pleasant to be around and even more effective in everything they do.

In many ways it’s been a lousy year for the world on top of a couple of really crappy years. Let’s be honest, it’s easy to look at things the other way…

But feeling grateful for what you have actually allows more room for empathy and for doing positive things for people who have truly had it rough this year. And there are millions more in the world in that dire situation than two, three or four years ago.

The obvious action is for those of us who have more than we need today to give some to those who are less fortunate.

Remember that one of the five proven ways to get more happiness from your money is to invest in others and to be generous. It’s just science.

Being grateful to the people around us makes it very easy to offer to help and pitch in with whatever needs to be done. This is especially welcome as we move into holiday preparation. Be grateful to that person in your life who always takes it upon themselves to make things great and figure out how you can help ease that burden.

(Helpful hint — it’s much more powerful if you figure out how to help and do it on your own initiative, rather than ask that person to figure it out on top of other demands, but either way, the help will be gratefully accepted.)

A couple of years ago in this year-end column, I pointed out that a ski instructor surprised our group at the beginning of an instruction day. Instead of asking our goals and what we wanted to get out of the ski camp, Ron asked us to say out loud three things for which we were grateful. Pretty easy at the top of a mountain, but so effective.

After that, every one of us in the group skied better, enjoyed ourselves more and helped each other out all day long. It was a great lesson for me.

So, consider trying out a morning exercise of expressing your gratitude each day for the rest of the year. It will help you through the inevitable challenges and make the good times that much better.

Happy holidays, happy Hanukkah, merry Christmas and may the warmth of the season flow over you.

Dollars and Sense is meant as an introduction to this topic and should not in any way be construed as a replacement for personalized professional advice.

David Christianson, BA, CFP, R.F.P., TEP, CIM is recipient of the FP Canada™ Fellow (FCFP) Distinction, and repeatedly named a Top 50 Financial Advisor in Canada. He is a Senior Wealth Advisor and Portfolio Manager with Christianson Wealth Advisors at National Bank Financial Wealth Management, and author of the book Managing the Bull, A No-Nonsense Guide to Personal Finance.

David Christianson

David Christianson
Personal finance columnist

David has been a practising financial planner and life advisor since 1982, specializing in helping clients identify and reach their most important goals, and then helping them manage all of their financial affairs, including investments.

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