x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

‘It’s only with gratitude that life becomes rich’

Janelle Malone: my grandmother has taught me probably the greatest lesson of all: the simple practice of gratitude.

In my last column, I wrote about the lessons that have been passed on to me by my grandmother. Since her passing, she has taught me probably the greatest lesson of all: the simple practice of gratitude. Instead of grieving for her absence, I am learning to celebrate the many blessings in my life. And you’ll never guess what tops the list as one of my biggest blessings? Money.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran pastor, said: “It’s only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” In researching the connection between wealth and gratitude, I discovered a recurring thought process between successful people – they each adopted an attitude of gratitude.

Oprah Winfrey famously said: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Researching this topic last year, the John Templeton Foundation conducted a survey on gratitude among 2,000 online participants. What did most of them have in common? The feel-good factor. Sixty per cent of participants agreed that their main reason for expressing gratitude was to make themselves feel better. Now here’s the real plus: 94 per cent of those surveyed felt that grateful people lead richer, fuller lives.

In a nutshell, becoming grateful changes your perception on life. Feeling grateful costs nothing. Similarly, the level of gratitude that we feel has little to do with the price tag on something. We can be equally grateful for an open parking space as for a free cup of coffee. The same applies to your bank account. The more grateful you can be for the money that you have – even if it’s not that much – the more wealth you will receive.

Now I know this may be hard to believe. Some of you may be reading this, thinking: I have school fees to pay, the air conditioner just broke in my car and I can’t possibly drive another 2km in the hot UAE sun without it ... not to mention the credit card bill that is due at the end of the month.

I totally get it. I am living and working in this world too.

But since starting my gratitude diary, I am learning to view my financial situation through different eyes. Yes, bills exist; life costs money, after all. But why make it (the bill) worse than it actually is?

When the bills come in, I pay them. Only today I pay them with gratitude. I am hugely grateful for the amazing education that my son is receiving; I am forever indebted to the newly-fixed air conditioning in my husband’s car, as I will no longer have to see, smell and hear him when he comes in after another sweaty trip.

I am making the conscious decision to see the value that my money is bringing into my life. I am thankful for the security and prosperous future that my well-earned funds are affording me. This new way of thinking is bringing riches into my life and I am watching in awe.

If you’re not convinced, I challenge you to try it.

Start writing a gratitude journal every evening. Pay particular attention to your thoughts and what role your thinking is playing in your daily life. Once you’ve done this, I implore you to turn your focus to your money. What is your attitude to your finances?

Most of us wouldn’t think that we complain about money. But consider this: if there is a lack of money in your life, you may be complaining about it without even realising. Even if you don’t say it out loud, just thinking negative thoughts about money has the power to shape the way you handle your finances.

To get you started, let’s look at some shared blessings that we in the UAE have in common.

Firstly, we have the unique bonus of not paying any taxes. Compare this to people in other countries who have to dole out a nice 40 per cent in tax from each and every paycheque. Think of all the money you’re saving right there.

Next up: personal savings. Yes, governments outside of the UAE even deduct tax on the interest earned on saving funds too. Then there is property growth – a tax-free financial climate means more money to invest into securing your financial future. Can you feel your gratitude list growing longer?

But it is at this point that this mindset comes with added responsibility. I cannot afford to spend recklessly. My attitude of gratitude means that I respect my money and the gifts that it affords me; this gives me a true incentive to save. Seeing these blessings on paper has given me a real appreciation for the life I am able to lead in the UAE.

I know that I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunities to make money on my savings. I am more driven to ensure that I live within my means to make my advantage work for me – will you?

Today, when you ask me: what is the real price of gratitude? My answer? It’s priceless.

Janelle Malone is a wealth commentator, writer and author. You can read her blog at www.womenmoneyandstyle.com