The Science of Gratitude and Financial Success

Find out how being grateful affects your financial success. Plus, Money Girl reveals 5 tips for easily cultivating more gratitude in your daily life. 

Laura Adams, MBA
6-minute read
Episode #380

The Science of Gratitude and Financial SuccessThanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it’s about acknowledging what we’re grateful for. We don’t get bogged down with giving gifts or going all-out with home decorations; instead, the day is about sharing time and great food with friends and family.

In this episode, I’ll discuss the science of being grateful, and how it affects your financial success. You’ll also get 5 tips to help easily cultivate more gratitude in your daily life. .

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What Is Gratitude?

Author Melody Beattie says:

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."

We hear a lot about the benefits of gratitude. But it’s fascinating to know that they aren’t just theories. Scientists are studying the effects of gratitude and how to use it to achieve more goodness in our lives.

One the of world’s leading scientific experts on gratitude is Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. He’s written multiple books about giving thanks, including Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity.

In order to have more gratitude, it’s important to define exactly what it is. According to Dr. Emmons, gratitude is made up of 2 parts. First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. You might acknowledge that there are good things in the world and that you’ve received good gifts during your lifetime.

This sounds simple, but can be very difficult if you’re facing serious challenges like health problems, getting out of debt, or clinical depression. It’s easy to buy into a “me versus the universe” mentality and only focus on what’s bad or has gone wrong in your life.

But having gratitude doesn’t mean that you believe your life is perfect. It means that when you consider life in its entirety, you identify some amount of goodness in your life. 

See also: How to Get Out of Debt Faster, Part 1

There’s a second and important component of gratitude that Dr. Emmons points out: he says we have to recognize that the sources of goodness are outside of ourselves. That means you must realize that other people, or even a higher power, gave us many gifts that we use to achieve goodness in our lives.

In other words, you should consider where that goodness came from by remembering how you’ve been helped and supported by other people. Maybe it was a family member, teacher, boss, or a role model that you’ve never even met.

We can appreciate positive traits in ourselves, but true gratitude involves a humble acknowledgement that much of what we have is due to the goodness of others. The highest form of gratitude is appreciating what you have and honoring those who’ve helped you, by helping others.


About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a frequent, trusted source for the national media. Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers is her newest title. Laura's previous book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love, was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show.