Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! It was just a few years ago, that I sat at the Thanksgiving table with my then girlfriend’s family (now in-laws) and we all had to go around the table and tell what we were thankful for. Knowing that they will read this, I hesitate to tell this story. However, they know it just as well as I do. As we were getting ready to eat the Thanksgiving meal and that’s where everything went downhill. We were invited to share what we were thankful for. This wasn’t a tradition in my family. Instead, one person lead the family in grace and we dug in.
I don’t remember if it is a family tradition or if it was a spur of the moment type of thing. The family (and me the boyfriend), went around the table sharing what they were thankful. Somehow, it worked out that I would be the last one. Normally, this would be a good thing. It would allow me the time to think of my response. For some reason, this wasn’t the case. I wanted to listen to everyone’s response. This may sound strange, but everyone was stealing my responses. Sure, there were no rules or restrictions of repeating responses, but I wanted my answers to be good ones. Before I knew it, I was up and suddenly there was all this unexpected pressure. Out of nowhere.
I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I remember turning red and stumbling for words. Remember, I was the one who was just a boyfriend. It was also the point in the relationship where we hadn’t talked about how serious we were, but we were individually thinking about where this thing might end up. Questions flooded my head as I tried to spit something out. Questions like, ‘How much do I share with this family that I am still getting to know?’ or ‘How do I refer to my then girlfriend?’ or ‘What will they think of me if I say something wrong?” While it ended up being okay (we later got married and I have a great relationship with the in-laws), it was definitely an awkward moment.
Because of this, I won’t ask you to share what you are thankful, but do something completely different. To keep with the spirit of being thankful, I thought I would explore how being thankful affects your finances.
What Does Being Thankful Mean?
Being thankful suggests that you are happy that you have what you have. It usually indicates, but not always, that you are satisfied. You recognize that even though life is not perfect (it never is), you are happy to have what you have. This could mean the people around you, the relationships, your family, your job, or even financial security. Being thankful also seems to communicate to me some exterior force. Whether it’s luck or God or some mystery out there, it suggests that you didn’t earn everything that you have. Somehow, things just worked out the way that they did and you are appreciative.
How Being Thankful Affects Your Finances
Now that I have tried to define what it means, how might this shape one’s approach to finances? When I asked this question to myself in writing this post, I came up with one definitive answer. Here goes…
Being thankful alters your approach to finances. Instead of trying to get all of the money that you can or keep it for yourself, being thankful recognizes that you couldn’t do it all by yourself. I think it pushes us to give back a little (if not a lot). When I realize what I am thankful for, I realize that I couldn’t have come to where I am today without help. This makes me want to reciprocate the same actions to others. Thus, being thankful not only pushes me to recognize all of the good things that I have, but also forces me to give to others. I shy away from the “I-want-to-earn-as-much-money-as-possible,” mentality. I may still strive for success, but it doesn’t control me.
Do you find that being thankful shapes your approach to finances? If so, how?