‘Tis the season of giving. Thanksgiving is a few days away, and December holidays will follow soon thereafter. This is an excellent time to evaluate the good things in our lives, and look at ways we can improve in the new year. My saving-conscious mindset sometimes gets in the way of truly savoring life. I don’t want to let future savings goals prevent me from living in the present, and you shouldn’t either.
Gratitude is great for several reasons, as outlined in Erin Wildermuth’s article on the science of gratitude. Are negative emotions ruling your holiday season? Then be grateful for these five things:
Families come in different forms, and WorthyNest celebrates this! Whether you are a parent, child, spouse, sibling (or all of them), you’re a member of a broader family. Use this time to mend broken relationships. If you and a family member come from disparate sides of a political or religious spectrum, consider these conversation starters as you gather around the dinner table.
Each day is a gift, filled with 86,400 seconds. Treasure moments of togetherness instead of focusing on the time we do not have with family.
Dan Buettner’s book Blue Zones of Happiness indicates that social connections are a great predictor of happiness. Even introverts find time with close friends to be more valuable than time alone. Buettner studied Blue Zone Communities that foster additional social interactions among neighbors by making grocery stores, schools, and other amenities more convenient. He advises spending 6 to 7 hours daily in social interactions. That’s a tall order for many working parents, but friendships with coworkers count in that total, too.
While time with family is especially prized during the holidays, also prioritize time with friends. Ask a friend to go shopping with you, or have a small gathering at your home where you’ll hand-make gifts together. Better yet, take a note from the Japanese: they started moais, a circle of five to seven friends. These small groups commit to support each other for the long haul and provide a safe space to err concerns you have about work and family.
Don’t take your physical health or the health of your loved ones for granted. My mother’s major health scare this summer was a wake-up call. She never smoked, drank excessively, or used drugs in her 65 years of life. Yet she fell victim to a genetic disease of the heart called Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib), an irregular heartbeat. Her condition didn’t respond to typical medications or procedures. She went from “healthy” to “critical” in a matter of days, and there wasn’t anything I could do to stop it.
She is recovering now, and I thank God each day she is alive. I also thank Him daily for the gift of life for me and my family members. Don’t wait until it is too late to appreciate the health of your family and friends.
4. Bare Necessities
Food, water, shelter, and clothing represent basic needs. Developed countries take these items for granted, but much of the developing world is left in the dust. You may not be in your “dream” home, you may still be renting, or your kids could be picky eaters. These are first world problems.
If you’re charitably inclined, research charities that benefit people living below the poverty line in the U.S. or those overseas who still yearn for all basic needs. Help One Now strives to end extreme poverty, care for orphans, rescue slaves, and see communities transformed. These non-profit organizations make clean water a global reality.
Buettner further contends in Blue Zones of Happiness that happiness is comprised of three primary components: pride, purpose, and pleasure. Purpose means living out your values and passions in the service of a higher calling. Beyond motherhood, WorthyNest is my purpose. I’m bringing a different model of financial advice to modern families, carefully guiding each step of the client journey. My client base, service model, and fee structure are unique. I put my heart and soul into this work and always strive for excellence.
Who or what are you most thankful for this holiday season? Let me know in the comments below!
Deborah L. Meyer, CPA/PFS, CFP® is a fee-only financial planner and investment advisor based in Saint Louis, Missouri who serves clients nationally. As the owner of WorthyNest, Deb educates and empowers families to build long-term wealth. Find Deb discussing family-minded finance on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.