Life Balance

Nora and Tim help you find balance when dealing with a stressful debt situation. Learn how to manage stress and enjoy travel without breaking the bank.

Count Your Blessings

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Thanksgiving has always been my father's favorite holiday and I'm prone to agree with him. Taking a break for just a few days with our closest family -- no gifts to exchange, no religious ceremonies, just enjoying good food and each other's company -- can be wonderful.

Since I grew up in a religious family, we always express thanks when we say grace before our Thanksgiving meal. During the holiday and at intervals throughout the year, I'll ask my children to tell me things that they're thankful for.

And now that I keep in touch with so many friends and family members through Facebook, I sometimes post a status message that is nothing more than the title of an old hymn, "Count Your Blessings."

You don't have to be religious, though, to meditate upon gratitude. You only have to be human, with a heart open enough to appreciate what you have, and a mind with enough imagination to contemplate life without it. If your experience is anything like mine, the thought that you put into that meditation will more than pay you back.

The Things That Matter

It's easy to think of your blessings in physical terms: where you live, what you drive, what clothes you wear, which gadgets you have, and how much money you have in the bank. And we should be grateful for physical possessions, because they do make life easier. But they're hardly the things that matter most.

Think back on the natural disasters that have struck in recent years - Hurricane Katrina, the Indian Ocean tsunami, and all the rest. Yes, the loss of homes and family heirlooms was heartbreaking, but what did most of the survivors really care about in those moments of crisis?

They wanted to know if their loved ones were safe. They wanted to check on their friends. They wanted to find their pets. In many cases, the physical items they most wanted to preserve -- photos, scrapbooks, and the like -- would be of little monetary value to anyone else. What they wanted, in short, was connection with their loved ones, and a few physical objects that reminded them of those connections.

Where's Your Real Wealth?

By all means, take the time and effort to manage your money well. But realize that if you don't have your health, all the money in the world won't matter to you. If you don't have connection to the people who mean the most to you, the biggest pile of money will be cold comfort. You need money, sure, but it's not at the top of the list of what you need.

It occurred to me that I could make more money, week in and week out, if I took the hours I spent with my family or exercising and used them to take on more freelance assignments, or maybe to invest more actively. But I'm proud of the choices I've made.

For all of my (many!) imperfections, having dinner with my wife and kids every night is worth it. Keeping myself fit is worth it. And a little extra money? Well, sure -- but only if earning it fits in with the rest of my priorities.

This Thanksgiving season, my wish for you is that you can fully enjoy the balance of blessings -- material and otherwise -- in your life.

Now, please tell me: What can you do to cultivate a greater spirit of gratitude in your life?

PREVIOUS ARTICLES:

The Experience Is Everything

The Holiday Season is upon us: Will you let it Stress You out This Year?

 Show, Don't Tell, Your Priorities

 

Tim Walker

Tim is a writer, marketer, and social media pro in Austin. He joined CareOne's blogging team as a contributing writer for the Life Balance blog in 2009. As a blogger who has personally overcome debt challenges, he draws from his own experience to provide tips on living a balanced life and keeping fit. You can read more of his thoughts (on fitness and everything else) at his personal blog, What I've Learned So Far. Compensated CareOne Blogger

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  • Thanksgiving is also my favorite holiday.  Being thankful is something that I emphasize in my own life, as well as to my family.  Each night, as I tuck my kids into bed, I ask them the question, "What are you thankful for today?" We then bow our heads, say an evening prayer and say "thank you."  I feel it is very important to recognize that even if you just had the absolute worst day ever, there is still SOMETHING to be thankful for.  As a person struggling with debt, I feel that daily reminding myself of the good things in my life help me put my debt problem in perspective.

  • tpizel -- Good thoughts in your comment -- thanks for sharing them.

    One of the things, maybe the main thing, that separates happy people from unhappy ones, in my experience, is how they look upon the world around them. Happy people aren't happy because everything's going perfectly for them; unhappy people aren't that way because everything's going wrong. It has much more to do with how each of them digests the experiences they have.

    Good for you for keeping your focus on the positive -- and for teaching that to your kids.

  • For the rest of us, though, how we choose to think is the biggest factor in our sense of happiness and well-being.

  • I have a strange confession to make; I have turned into quite the non-consumerist, in fact I have spent less than twenty dollars on myself since the first of the year.

  • I devote so much time each day to thinking about money.

  • Maybe if we start the practice of giving thanks out loud here in November, we can carry it on well past the holiday season. It's certainly worth a try!

  • When you approach your life with total gratitude, the resulting opportunities can be profound. Sometimes it leads to financial profit, sometimes other kinds.

  • Sometimes it's hard to be thankful. Even if it's Thanksgiving and you're surrounded by loved ones and good food, you might still be thinking about the downsides -- lousy job, no job, being out of shape, troubled relationships, or money worries. I'm sure

  • See how often you can repeat those words to yourself in the days to come, and let those words steer your thoughts in a positive direction. The point is to take pleasure each day, in the normal settings of your life, instead of waiting for things to be

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