They become anchors for how we evaluate opportunities (like companies and stocks) and our own sense of happiness.1
They also make us fixate on what could or should have been, not what's right in front of us.1
When reality doesn't line up with our expectations, unhappiness, resentment, and anxiety usually follow.2
These negative feelings can intensify when we sense uncertainty.3 We get anxious about our hopes, goals, and dreams for the future when we feel like everything's unpredictable.4
Yet, it's not impossible to be happy when life throws us a curveball and the future seems uncertain.
How can we find joy when things feel chaotic?
When we're grateful, we can let go of our expectations. That can lead to greater happiness and life satisfaction, no matter how uncertain the present is—or the future may be.5
We instinctively focus more on the negative than the positive. When times are tough, we expect the worst. To see things in a more positive light, we have to consciously set aside the negativity.6
Recalling happy memories is a quick way to do that. Even remembering a simple act of kindness can make you feel happier.7
Consider the interactions, experiences, or people who have changed the way you think about something recently. Think about what you've learned.
Change and uncertainty can test our strength and character. How we stand up to the challenge may not just change our perspectives. It can also keep us grounded and spark personal growth.8
It's natural to take things for granted as we get used to them, even if they matter a lot to us. If we don't take time to appreciate them while we have them, though, we may never get the chance.
Writer Robert Brault may have said it best with this: "Enjoy the little things in life because one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things."
"We do not remember days; we remember moments." These words from Cesare Pavese ring true if you're in your 20s, your 90s, or anywhere in between.
Whether you're starting your career, raising kids, or enjoying retirement, recognize the good moments that are shaping this phase of your life. If you do, you'll enjoy them far more as they're happening.
Some experiences create memories that last a lifetime. Family dinners, vacations, celebrations, major life milestones, and once-in-a-lifetime moments can shape us forever and for the better.9
They can also have positive impacts on the way we learn, see the world, and respond to unknown situations in the future.10
This doesn't have to be extravagant. It can be simple, like some treasured part of your day or week.
It can also be unique and intangible, like a relationship you have with a friend, sibling, child, or spouse. In fact, these close relationships are the key to fulfillment and long-term happiness. Appreciating how special they are can help you make them stronger while bringing you more satisfaction.11
"Gratitude lets you appreciate what truly matters in the moment. That can go a long way toward improving your perspective, self-esteem, and overall sense of happiness."
It's impossible to predict the future. Still, many of us try—even during uncertain times—and we're disappointed when our predictions don't pan out.12
That can make life less enjoyable and more stressful than it has to be. It can also blind us to the value of what we already have.1
Gratitude can counteract that.
It can help us let go of negative emotions so we can enjoy what we have now.13
In unpredictable times, gratitude can do much more. It can empower us to handle stress better and recover from adversity faster.13
In the big picture, practicing gratitude lets you appreciate what truly matters in the moment. That can go a long way toward improving your perspective, self-esteem, and overall sense of happiness. It can also enhance and enrich your life.14
As a financial adviser, I know how challenging uncertainty can be for my clients. That's why I'm ready to provide the guidance and strategies they need to stay on track, so they can focus on enjoying the things they are truly grateful for.
If you're overwhelmed because the year feels off track—or if you're looking for a voice of reason during an uncertain time—let's chat. I'm here for you at (919) 335-4744.
I'm grateful for you.
Michael Whitman, MBA, CFP® Millennium Planning Group
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