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.
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.
Most 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?