What you Appreciate Appreciates

The word “appreciation” has at least two important meanings and applications. In the world of finance, it refers to the increasing value of an asset. In the inner realm of thoughts and emotions, appreciation involves recognizing the value of and feeling gratitude for specific people, experiences, and circumstances.

In her book, The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life, Lynne Twist teaches that appreciative thinking is the opposite of scarcity thinking: “When your attention is on what’s lacking and scarce—in your life, in your work, in your family, in your town—then that becomes what you are about.”

In contrast, appreciation is the healthy mindset of looking for the good in what is around you and focusing on the value of what you already have. The result is, according to Twist, “What you appreciate appreciates.”

Similarly, author Jackie Kelm explains, “What you focus on grows.” In her book, Appreciative Living, she applies the principles of Appreciative Inquiry, a model for organizational change, to creating success and fulfillment in personal life.

However, because of past programming, the appreciative “way of being” may not be an easy transition. Kelm writes, “Finding what’s right with others and whatever shows up in our lives is a thinking habit that can be learned through experience, but it must be deliberately learned and practiced.”

One way to develop a more positive frame of reference is to change your internal questions. For example, rather than asking yourself what is going wrong in a given situation, ask instead what is going right. Kelm also suggests creating a gratitude list in which you write three to five things each day for which you are grateful. “Over time you will begin to notice the good more naturally.”

In The Soul of Money, Twist explains that we can also change our thought habits in regard to personal finance. She writes, “If your attention is on the problems and breakdowns with money, or scarcity thinking that says there isn’t enough, more is better or that’s just the way it is, then that is where your consciousness will reside.” If so, the result will be that no amount of money will ever be enough to buy the happiness you desire.

The antidote, Twist writes, is appreciation—the conscious thought and intention required to develop mastery in the arena of money and to transform your feelings about your relationship with money. “In the light of appreciation, your prosperity grows.”

Reprinted by permission of Money Quotient, NP

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The Art and Science of “Smarter” Spending

Although a number of studies have focused on the effect of income on happiness, Elizabeth Dunn, a social psychologist at the University of British Columbia, also wanted to understand the effect of spending choices on happiness.

For example, previous research clearly demonstrated that income has a predictably positive effect on level of happiness, but these levels remain flat over time even as income increases. This finding puzzled Dunn and she wanted to find out why happiness did not increase along with income. (more…)

Saying Yes to Your Priorities!

Bringing balance to a busy personal and professional life is challenging. In order to accomplish all that seems necessary, most people resolve to work harder and faster.

Therefore, individuals and families are increasingly experiencing a time crunch. The result is mounting stress and compromised health and vitality. And yet, despite their best efforts, many express frustration about not being able to bring tasks to completion, and having enough time to focus on what or who is most important to them. (more…)

Life Lessons: Embracing Vulnerability

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, and has spent much of her career studying the complex human experiences of “vulnerability” and “living wholeheartedly.”

Her 2010 TED Talk presentation, “The Power of Vulnerability,” catapulted her into the international spotlight with a powerful message that literally resonated with millions.  In fact, it is among the top ten TED Talks viewed worldwide.  In addition, she is the author of the New York Times best seller, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. (more…)

Goals for Life: Your Circle of Caring

The first step to investing in your quality of life is to think about and clarify what is most important to you. This is a time to listen to your own heart and to focus on what you value most in life. Whatever you identify will become the foundation of your life goals.

As you think about your life in the future, it is also important to view your financial plan within a framework of your closest relationships. If you have a spouse or life partner, you will want to factor in his or her dreams and expectations as well as your own. In addition, you will want to take into consideration your responsibilities and your hopes for your children, parents, siblings and whoever you consider to be “family.” (more…)

Caught in the Middle

A growing number of individuals and couples are entering the ranks of the Sandwich Generation.  What they have in common is that they are “caught in the middle” between the competing needs and wants of their dependent children and aging parents.  In addition, they also need to consider and prepare for their own retirement years and potential long-term care needs.

For example, most members of the Sandwich Generation value higher education and feel compelled to provide that opportunity for their children.  Other “sandwichers” are pressed into service by providing financial resources to a divorcing adult child or helping raise a grandchild.  In addition, as life expectancy increases, their aging parents are likely to survive well into their 90’s and require monetary and caregiving assistance. (more…)

Extra Years – Managing Our Windfall

Since the turn of the last century, improved nutrition and advances in medicine and healthcare have added 30 years to our average life expectancy.  Without question, this is a remarkable achievement, but one that also requires each of us to think differently about “old age” and how we choose to live our lives.

For example, in Working Through Demographic Change, authors Elliott Jaques and William Zinke wrote, “People are living longer and in better health, and the meaning of adult life itself has changed: a whole new stage of mature adulthood has come onto the scene, and old age has been pushed back by many years.”

Career development expert Helen Harkness, Ph.D., also believes that we should reject the view that increasing longevity extends old age.  In her book, Don’t Stop the Career Clock, she wrote, “If these extra years are handled wisely, our middle age will double dramatically into a new second midlife, while our ‘old’ age shrinks.”  For that reason, she advises that we think about these extra years as a precious gift and “take an active hand in managing our windfall.”

Similarly, Laura L. Carstensen writes, “People are happiest when they feel embedded in something larger than themselves and when they are needed.”  Therefore, she encourages everyone living in the second half of life to envision the steps—large and small—that they can take to ensure a bright future:

”Invest in yourself by learning something new.  Design your world so that healthy habits come naturally.  Diversify your social network by befriending a person from a different generation.  Start a business that puts others to work.  Think creatively about ways that an unprecedented number of mature, talented, healthy adults can address society’s great challenges.”1

As the founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity and the author of A Long Bright Future, Carstensen has come to believe that the actions of today’s generation of older people will set the course for decades.

Harkness also agrees that we are in a new age of learning how to live and work throughout our life spans.  She writes: “By knowing what we want and doing what we love, we can continue life’s journey with creativity, wisdom, power, and purpose.

Reprinted by permission of Money Quotient, NP

Image Copyright: halfpoint / 123RF Stock Photo

Mastering Cash Flow: Your Key to Financial Success

Budgeting. Just the thought of that word can elicit groans and shudders. Yes, there are those out there who love typing every expenditure into their spreadsheets or personal finance software programs, who gleefully save every receipt from every purchase, and who enjoy doing this every day. But for some, the idea of taking the time to create and maintain a full-blown budget can be intimidating. ~ Anna Prior, Wall Street Journal

The key to financial success is adopting a cash flow plan that will guide your financial decisions on a day to day basis. In addition, understanding and controlling how money flows in and out of your life will free you from financial stress and empower you to achieve your most important life goals. (more…)

Goals are Key to Designing Your Rich Life

Financial Life Planning is a holistic process that will help you to clarify your values and guide you in defining and designing your unique version of the “rich life.”

Goal setting is an essential component of this process, and a powerful tool for experiencing what is most important to you.  When you imagine what you want your life to be like and what you want to achieve, these images will become the basis of your life and financial goals. (more…)

Holistic Planning for Later In Life

We often equate preparing for old age with achieving the financial security needed to sustain us throughout life. However, a truly successful and fulfilling aging experience requires planning and preparation in all areas of life.

Financial planning is indeed important, but money alone cannot “buy” happiness, good health, meaningful relationships, and purposeful activities. In The Late-Start Investor, John Wasik wrote:

“Instead of absorbing an obsolete view of retirement, you should consider what I call your New Prosperity. This includes a flexible life plan that provides for your financial, vocational, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Unless you look at your future holistically, merely saving up a pile of money will be a meaningless act.” (more…)