We’ve often heard from various avenues how grateful we should be. Whether it’s from parents, friends, church, work, seminars etc. At some point someone has told you that you should be grateful. We are definitely grateful when things go our way. When you get that client, that job, that house, that car, the promotion, the income increase etc. How about when things don’t go your way? It’s not that easy to be grateful then. Subconsciously, we have a checklist of things that should ideally happen before we can be grateful. And of course we also think, “If only I had more money, there would be so much more to be grateful about!” You could finally get rid of that cloud that hangs over your head. You could get out of debt, pay fees without the drama, have a better life, save, invest, help others, and the list goes on and on and on. We tell ourselves that other people around us have the luxury of being grateful. You probably look at them and make up a story about how their lives are, and how you wish you were in their shoes. When you are going through certain challenges and somebody tells you to be grateful, you brush it off because you feel that they just don’t understand your burden and what it is to be in your situation. But I have learnt two things. There is always something to be grateful for. Even if it’s the fact that you can breathe. Or the fact that you can read this article. Secondly, there is practical power in gratitude. And this definitely flows over into how we approach money, which is one of the areas in our lives where we are all facing many challenges.
I have a two-year-old son, and he is at that stage when his behavior at times results in certain painful consequences. The other day he was sent to sit in solitude, otherwise known as naughty corner, after one of these incidences. Of course as he went, he was crying. In his eyes, it was the worst thing that could happen. However, after a few minutes, whilst still sitting alone, he was singing, playing with his feet, etc. When he had paid his price for the incident and done his time, I allowed him to get back up and rejoin society. He actually thanked me as he went back to play. Talk about gratitude in the midst of the storm! The “Thank you Mummy” really got me thinking about my own approach to the storms of life. So you are going through a hard time financially. You are in the naughty corner of your finances. You are in a situation (whether it’s your fault or not) that may seem so bleak. But even so, you have something. What is that? Just the way my son realized that even though I punished him, I could not take away his voice and ability to sing. What is your song? You may have lost your biggest client, but you have three other smaller ones. You may be in debt but you have a job. You may not know how you are going to pay fees this term but you have a brain and a voice that can negotiate some terms for you. I remember once having to hold on to the fact that I was mentally able. Just like my son first cried, it is healthy to go through the emotion of feeling bad. But don’t let that be all you see. We are told to seek and you shall find. Start looking for the light, any light, in the dark tunnel.
When you do identify it, let it become more important to you than the situation at hand. (Click to Tweet this) I noticed as my son was singing, that his voice kept getting louder. The boy actually started enjoying himself. What do think would happen if you decided to enjoy your work in the midst of financial agony? Isn’t it possible that your energy or attitude would reflect on your work? Isn’t it possible that because of that you would be better at it or get an inspired idea, which can actually help you with your financial situation? You never solve a problem by wallowing in self-pity about it. No one gets out of debt by thinking about debt. They get out of debt by being in the proper mind-frame to recognise opportunities to create income, and this helps pay off the debt. No one grows a business by getting discouraged about not having 300 clients. They grow by appreciating the one client they have and serving them well, which leads to more clients. No one gets a promotion by simply detesting his or her current role. Gratitude enables you to separate yourself from your situation. Just because my son was in punishment did not mean that he had to act like he was in punishment. Do not let your situation become your identity. You may have spent money badly for many years and that has gotten you into a lot of problems, but be grateful that there is money that presents itself to be spent (albeit having been done in the wrong way) and start doing something different today. It won’t fix all your problems at once, but you’ll start thinking differently and solutions will start being amplified. It will be your song which can get louder and louder.
Lastly, what if we just dared to say thank you in our financial misery, just like my son told me thank you. What do you think you would see? Maybe an answer, a different perspective, notice the lesson, how you are growing as a result of this, a hidden talent, a resource, access to help. Just try. It can’t hurt more than what you are going through. I know it works because I built a business by being grateful that I was mentally able. I read a quote which says; It’s not happy people who are thankful, it’s thankful people who are happy. Have a grateful day today, and always.
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Waceke Nduati-Omanga runs programs on Personal Finance Management, Entrepreneurship and Career Success.