The Independent Market Observer

A Focus on Gratitude

Posted by Brad McMillan, CFA®, CFP®

Find me on:

This entry was posted on Mar 20, 2019 4:05:34 PM

and tagged Commentary

Leave a comment

gratitudeThis will be a short post as I am on a plane headed back home from Florida. For me, this brief time in the air is a great opportunity to do something I try to do a couple of times a year here on the blog: focus on gratitude. Gratitude is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your life. Doing a daily gratitude practice, where I write down three things I am grateful for every day, has changed my life immeasurably for the better. Gratitude is not usually associated with air travel, I admit, but let’s see what we can do here.

What am I grateful for?

At the simplest level, I am grateful that I have an empty seat next to me—something you don’t get that often anymore. That the plane was on time. That I am headed home. Simple things, but meaningful.

Looking back at the past couple of days, however, I have much more to give thanks for. I came down to Florida from Boston to speak to a group of clients for one of our advisors. So, I took the chance to bring my wife and son to visit with my parents over the weekend. In no particular order, here are a few things that warrant gratitude. 

  1. I have a wife and son. Family is the most important thing in life, and I am immensely blessed with my immediate family.
  2. I have great parents—who are still alive and healthy. I want to visit them, and they want me there. (I think!) Not everyone can say the same.
  3. I can afford to take my family down to Florida for the weekend.
  4. I have the kind of job—and work for the kind of company—where this type of trip is not only allowed but encouraged.

Beyond my personal life, I can highlight other things to be grateful for. 

  1. Travel is easy and cheap, which wasn’t the case earlier in my life.
  2. Life spans are getting longer and healthier. Decades ago, my parents might not have been able to host us, and our own health might not have been as good.
  3. Retirement savings and pension systems, including social security, exist. My parents are financially solvent, and my wife and I are working on it. Many people take social security for granted, but it provides the financial foundation for many seniors. I am grateful it is there, even as I hope not to depend on it.
  4. And, of course, we live in the U.S., where you can retire to Florida and visit from Massachusetts, all while staying in the same country.

Are there things to worry about and things that could be better? Of course. Does that really matter when we focus on gratitude for what we have? No. The point here is to appreciate what we do have. Most people, when they think about it, have a lot.

Take a moment

We live in an era of abundance and prosperity unique in history. We are privileged—despite all the real concerns—to do so in one of the wealthiest and most advanced countries in the world. So you may be grateful for the big things (like modern medicine or living in the U.S.) or the small things (like an open seat next to you on the plane). You can be grateful for your spouse and kids, even if you occasionally get quite annoyed with them. You can recognize that you want things to be better—and still be grateful for what you have.

I am taking this flight as a chance to reflect in more depth on just how grateful I am for my life. I hope you the readers are just as lucky, or even more so, and that you take some time (go ahead, I’ll wait) to appreciate that and to be truly grateful for your blessings.

Have a wonderful day.

Subscribe via Email

New call-to-action
Crash-Test Investing

Hot Topics

New Call-to-action



see all



The information on this website is intended for informational/educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice, a solicitation, or a recommendation to buy or sell any security or investment product. Please contact your financial professional for more information specific to your situation.

Certain sections of this commentary contain forward-looking statements that are based on our reasonable expectations, estimates, projections, and assumptions. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve certain risks and uncertainties, which are difficult to predict. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Diversification does not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets.

The S&P 500 Index is a broad-based measurement of changes in stock market conditions based on the average performance of 500 widely held common stocks. All indices are unmanaged and investors cannot invest directly in an index.

The MSCI EAFE (Europe, Australia, Far East) Index is a free float‐adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed markets, excluding the U.S. and Canada. The MSCI EAFE Index consists of 21 developed market country indices.

One basis point (bp) is equal to 1/100th of 1 percent, or 0.01 percent.

The VIX (CBOE Volatility Index) measures the market’s expectation of 30-day volatility across a wide range of S&P 500 options.

The forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio divides the current share price of the index by its estimated future earnings.

Third-party links are provided to you as a courtesy. We make no representation as to the completeness or accuracy of information provided on these websites. Information on such sites, including third-party links contained within, should not be construed as an endorsement or adoption by Commonwealth of any kind. You should consult with a financial advisor regarding your specific situation.


Please review our Terms of Use

Commonwealth Financial Network®