Have you ever had a delicious meal and completely stuffed your face to that not-so-glamorous feeling of regret?
It is strange how we have limits when it comes to eating, exercise, sleep, and almost everything else in life, but when it comes to money, almost nobody feels like they have enough. There is no limit.
I have met people with tens of millions of dollars. I have met people with a negative net worth. I know people who make $0 per year and others who make millions.
Interestingly, I can count on one hand the number of people who truly feel secure – who feel like they have more money than they will ever need. Simply stated, they feel they have enough.
Enough is a tough feeling to experience.
There is always the sinking feeling in the back of people’s minds asking questions, such as:
- What if we go to war and I lose everything?
- What if my health insurance does not cover a medical emergency and I go bankrupt?
- What if there is a cyber attack and my money is stolen?
- What if I lose my job and can’t find another?
There are thousands of these types of questions floating around. Some are more likely than others. Some are very unlikely and yet we often fear those the most because they tend to be events we have never experience and are unable to calculate the consequences.
In a world where money always feels in short supply, my challenge to you is to feel like you have more to give.
Why Gratitude is Important
Although gratitude is good for others, it is also good for you. Research shows people who show gratitude are more likely to feel satisfied with their lives. They also report decreased depression and anxiety, as well as more optimism.
Often when you show gratitude, there is an increased likelihood someone will show it back. For example, if you bake your friend a cake, they are likely to reciprocate in the future with another kind act. They may even pay it forward to another friend, who does something for another friend, and so forth. In a way, gratitude is infectious.
It builds off the smallest acts and can help change the lives of others.
Acts of Kindness and Gratitude Growing Up
When people think about giving, they often think about money and while that is important, not all giving needs to take the form of money. Gratitude can be shown through acts of kindness.
Gratitude can be shown through saying thank you to the person who holds the door open, sending a note of thanks and congratulations to a colleague, or a text message to let someone know how thankful you are for them. It can be simple or elaborate.
In my life, I appreciate letters from friends. I enjoy it when colleagues go out of their way to say thank you for helping. I also value small treats – a surprise food delivery, baked goods, or drink.
What I have noticed over the years is how much I appreciate random acts of kindness. I love it when I am not expecting someone to express gratitude and they do. I find others do too.
I feel gratitude when I think back to my childhood. My family owns a beach cabin built in the early 1900s. Since it’s old, there is always work to be done. I remember a few times where my aunt paid my friend and me to haul buckets of sand up two steep trails. I think it was to make the trail less muddy, but I do not fully remember.
She paid us by the bucket, so we worked extremely hard for what felt like hours. I started developing a work ethic. From this small kind act of her paying us, I began building lifelong habits. She did not have to pay us. It is a family cabin and everybody is expected to pitch in, but she did anyway.
I also feel gratitude for the help I received in college. Family members helped pay for my tuition, my dad drove me back and forth when I wanted to come home on weekends, and my family made connections to help me get internships and informational interviews. Some of it involved money while other parts involved time and access to their network.
You never know how spending money on someone else, making a connection, or investing time in someone will change someone’s life. Or, how it could change yours. It is the reason I do my best to always respond to informational interview requests. Others did the same for me.
Take a few moments to reflect. When do you feel most grateful? What acts of kindness have you experienced? What acts of kindness have you given?
How was money involved? Could you give more? How would that have impacted you?
More Recent Giving
Remember how I said most people never feel like they have enough? I sometimes feel that way, too.
I remember feeling that way most distinctively when I challenged myself to do a Giving Project through Social Justice Fund Northwest a few years ago.
It’s a hard project to describe. It is a learning experience mixed with fundraising and grantmaking, focused on social change. It is a transformative experience. After a few weeks together as a group, you decide how much you are personally donating to the giving project, prior to fundraising from others.
There are no minimum or maximum donations. They only ask that you make a gift that is personally meaningful to you. Besides that, they challenge you to stretch your gift to the point of feeling uncomfortable – to feel like you are giving something up.
I remember going into the project with a number in mind, raising it partway through the project, and then my final donation ended up double my original intended number.
It was uncomfortable.
I had never given that much money. I remember weeks later still thinking, ‘Wow, I am really proud of myself, but what if I need that money?’ I wavered back and forth thinking about the good it would do and the selfish part of me wanting it for security.
Years later, I have no regrets. I did not need the money. I am doing fine.
It was a perfect example of how I never feel like I have enough, but I do. I realized I had more to give without jeopardizing my future. It was the first time I felt like that.
Do you ever feel like you have enough? Have you ever been challenged to give past the point of comfort? If so, how did you feel?
If you have never experienced it, I challenge you to do it. You will never feel like you have enough; however, when you give, you get back much more.
Ideas to Show Gratitude
Sometimes it is challenging to find inspiration and ideas for how to show gratitude or perform random acts of kindness.
Below is a list to help you start:
- Pay for someone’s groceries behind you
- Allow someone to merge in your lane while driving who you normally wouldn’t let merge
- Give someone a compliment
- Tip more when you do takeout
- Invite the new person at your office to lunch
- Give blood
- Mentor someone
- Write thank you notes to friends or family
- Raise money for an organization
- Do a chore for a loved one
One of the best ways to show gratitude on a daily basis is to start a gratitude journal. This can take many forms, but I’ve adopted the approach of writing three things I am thankful for each day. It does not matter what I write down, as long as I do it consistently. They can be materialistic possessions, experiences, or people in my life.
Barring a few gaps of time, I have been keeping my gratitude journal since 2013. There are over six years of entries. Although I do not feel like reflecting and writing down three things every single day, I do my best to force myself to or go back and make up the days I miss. Over time, I’ve come to realize what I am most grateful for: wonderful people in my life, health, a house, and enough money to enjoy life while planning for the future.
Sure, there are days where I buy something new and money is more important, but that quickly fades. I always come back to people, health, and a safe place to lay my head at night.
Having done it for years, it’s something I look forward to at the end of the day. I feel settled by writing them down. Without it, the day feels off.
If you do not feel energized by daily writing, write one thank you letter per month for a year to friends and family in your life. I did this as a New Years’ resolution a few years ago. Each month I wrote a letter thanking someone in my life for the impact they had on me. I specifically thanked them for what I thought was most helpful, what I am most grateful for today, and how it impacted me.
There are very few better feelings than thanking someone for helping make you into the person you are today.
As you can see, not everything has to be related to money. If you truly do not have enough, you can give and show gratitude in other ways.
For those who do have enough, but do not feel like they do, try to make impactful gifts. Give more than you have ever given. Give in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. Give to where you may need to adjust your lifestyle.
I bet if you do, you will soon experience the feeling of enough.
Summary – Final Thoughts
Nobody ever feels like they have enough. Everyone thinks once they get to a certain level of income or wealth, they will be happy. The reality is the goal moves each time it is achieved.
It takes active work to overcome the feeling of insufficient resources and give more. When done, it is incredibly rewarding. Truly knowing you have enough is a real gift to yourself.
If there is one takeaway from this post, let it be this: you likely have more to give. Push yourself outside your normal comfort zone by giving more – significantly more – and see what happens.
In the famous words of Anne Frank, “No one has ever become poor by giving.”