Find the Bright Side And Watch Your Life Satisfaction Improve

My husband and I have paid off $11,454.54 in credit card and student loan debt in 17 months. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we still have $46,511.47 to go.

More bad news? We have three kids who are growing quickly, and we’d love to buy a house before our oldest turns 11 or 12 (which is just 2 to 3 years away). Oh, did I mention that we also have an 8.5 year old car with 115,000 miles on it will surely need to be replaced within the next few years. Before that happens, I’m sure there will be some expensive repairs in our future.

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Looking at our financial situation, it’s easy to feel hopeless. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the numbers.

But we don’t. Instead, we practice gratitude and guarded optimism.

Yes, we have debt, but we’re slowly but surely paying it off. We don’t have to consider bankruptcy or not being able to pay our bills. We have enough to meet our obligations AND pay down debt.

We both have jobs, and every year our salaries are increasing. In two years when my husband’s post doc is completed and he gets a job at a university, our income should increase substantially.

look-on-the-bright-sideMost importantly, we’ve learned our lesson on debt, and now we live a fairly Spartan existence so we don’t incur any more debt. We’re doing what we need to do to get our financial life in order.

Rather than be depressed or feel hopeless, every day I’m grateful that we’re on our way out of debt, even if the journey may take several years.

Do You Practice Gratitude?

Sometimes having a grateful attitude can be difficult. When I was 12, my dad was laid off, and it took him 2 long years to find another job. Our money was already tight, but without his income, we barely made it. My mom’s brothers and sisters pooled their money together to help my parents make their house payment so they didn’t lose the house.

Some people might find that embarrassing and depressing, but my mom choose to practice gratitude. Even now she talks about how grateful she is that her family helped her keep the house. My parents paid everyone back, but it took them years.

Sure, practicing an attitude of gratitude or optimism is easy when your bank account is growing and your career is on the way up. When you’re unemployed and money is going out quickly even though you slashed expenses, practicing gratitude is much more difficult.

Ironically, that is the time when you most need a grateful attitude.

Why You Should Practice Gratitude

You’ve likely heard the saying that you can’t control all the things in life that happen to you, but you can control how you respond to those things. You can be depressed and let events stunt your life, or you can practice gratitude and watch your life blossom in ways you never imagined.

In the book Unbroken, Louis Zamperini survives over 2 years as a prisoner of war in Japan in World War II. He is routinely beaten and comes close to dying several times. When he first returns home from the war, he drinks too much and is miserable and haunted by his past. However, he makes the conscious decision to practice a positive attitude and help kids in need. After he makes this decision, he never has a nightmare about his POW experiences again.

Zamperini couldn’t control what happened to him in the POW camp, but he could choose to control how he reacted to it. Making a conscious decision to be grateful and help others helped him live a fulfilling, enjoyable life.

Practicing an attitude of gratitude can help you in all walks of your life–financial, career, marriage–just to name a few. Why not try it today?

Last Edited: 15th April 2013

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  1. says

    That book Unbroken is one of my recent favorite books. It’s amazing how one man can go through such an amazing set of negative circumstances, like Louis Zamperini did, and still come out the other side a joyful, thankful person – even to the point of forgiving his Japanese torturers.

    How you choose to view your circumstances and react to them is a choice. I can only hope that God will give me the grace to react similarly – and see the bright side of life.

  2. says

    Hi Peter, enjoyed the inspiration work. Another inspiring book you might be interested in reading is The Heavenly Man. It’s about a missionary in the house church scene in China that has really helped me during tough times.

  3. Angel says

    Developing a gratitude habit changed my life, even before I was a Christian. I think gratitude is like a superhighway to God actually.

  4. jim says

    Wow! I think this is your best blog ever!!!! Nicely done. We lived well below the poverty level (without taking welfare) while spouse was in grad school and we had a little one. Sure could have used some money for food – but we managed. You want to know what that taught us? GRATITUDE in spades! To this day, every time I write a check for the electricity, water, whatever I say a prayer thanking God that we now have the ability to do so. Been doing that for 27 years now and don’t see that ever changing. While we were struggling I sure didn’t see the “blessing” in that – wow – was I wrong. Great article.

  5. says

    That’s the problem sometimes with us. We can’t help but dwell on the negative side of things when we have a lot to be thankful for. Love and Gratitude. Always.

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