Gratitude as a Tool for Economic Patience

I was not born well-off that when I started earning my own money, I have caught myself often times buying stuff which I do not really need for the sake of some status symbol.

Going to the mall or supermarket with unplanned purchases and coming home with bags of goods seemed like a way to boost my self-confidence or fill some emptiness that I feel inside. While staying here in South Korea for about two years already, I realized how I have been spending a little bit excessively on coats and jackets and pairs of shoes on sale, most of which I have not really worn at all. Add to these a variety of Korean cosmetics on sale that have been accumulating in my cabinets and drawers.

Gratitude

Overall, I feel like I am not really an impulsive buyer, but seeing all the items I have accumulated just in two years, I realized that even buying items on sale, without really having a real need for those items, can also be categorized as impulsive spending.

So the question is, since I am aware of my personal reasons for being an impulsive buyer, what can I do to solve my own dilemma?

Interestingly, I found this research study by D. Desteno and co-workers (2014). In their work, the emotion gratitude or thankfulness was revealed to reduce excessive economic impatience. The study focused on the effect of gratitude on delayed-gratification involving real money. The experiment revealed that those who were made to feel grateful through guided self-reflection chose to wait for some time to receive the larger sum of money.

But how do we become grateful? Is it something that comes easy and innate?

In this life which is full of suffering and trials, how do you keep a grateful heart? How do you keep counting your blessings, when something or someone has been taken away from you?

With this, I am reminded of a friend’s sharing that I heard long time back. In a gist, she shared with me that as a child of God, God does not want us to desire only His gifts. God desires that we desire Him, who is the Source and Giver of all. We might be experiencing tribulations, sickness, financial problems, heartaches, or other hardships, but God is always with us, manifesting Himself through His goodness to us, through the good experiences, the good relations we have, the material blessings to keep us alive, and in more ways than we could ever think of.

At this point, I would like to share some quotes that I find useful as reminders:

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice. – Meister Eckhart

A grateful mind is a great mind which eventually attracts to itself great things. – Plato

Whatever I am offered in devotion with a pure heart—a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water—I accept with joy. – Bhagavad Gita

Gratefulness brings contentment and calm in one’s life, filling the emptiness that we are feeling inside, preventing us from running after materials things that would never satisfy us and from being jealous of what other people have. Gratitude allows us to focus on what we have, disciplining us to live within our means, and in the long run, leads us to be generous, because a grateful heart attracts blessings.

*This article first appeared in the June-July 2017 edition of Diplomacy & Beyond (D&B).

Marj Baynosa is a chemical engineer and educator, who loves reading and writing in her spare time, especially on finance, faith, and other seemingly mundane things.

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