A Focus on Gratitude

Posted by Brad McMillan, CFA, CAIA, MAI

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

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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.

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