Gratitude: the Anecdote to Living Within Your Means
I am part of Generation X. My generation that is not ready for retirement. Financial responsibility is not my generation's strong suit. Some of us started college during the beginning of the credit boom where we received our debt indoctrination. The Millennial generation, supposedly lazy/entitled generation, saves more than my generation does and, generally speaking, are better with money. (Side note: there are big misconceptions about the millennial generation).
Yes, we are Gen Xers, the poster child generation for the immediate gratification economy. Want it and get it now. If you don't have money, charge it. We are to credit card debt like the baby boomer generation was to the drug induced 1960's peace movement. As a result, we have perfected the art of living over our means.
It is a tough addiction to cure. When you live outside of your means, you always want more. You are never satisfied. There is always the bigger house. There is always the faster car. The higher level of possessions is always the object of the chase. Want more, get more. As a result, we are living on borrowed time as the debt liability continues to climb as we finance the spending that our income can't seem to satisfy. Gen Xers are constantly working longer hours to try and keep up with the gap - spending that exceeds income.
The irony is that the car that we currently have was once object of desire, the next level. Now, it is not good enough. What was great about it then that makes us want to sell it and get the newer model? What will it take to realize that there is a ceiling to this lifestyle? Yes, if we were living in reality we would see that this has a day of reckoning associated with it. Unfortunately, the day of reckoning is just that. It is the place you arrive at where you are forced to live within your means. Forced is not nearly as good as the day it was a choice. Unfortunately, it is during your 50's that you realize it. Things get real. Then you think - could you have stopped this madness before it got so bad?
I think that many people in America are facing these times right now. The bill has come due. What is the answer? Very simply put- Gratitude. Start out by practicing gratitude for everything that God has given to you within your means. Learn to care for and appreciate it what you already have versus the quest for what you don't have. It is about mastering new habits - you know, habits that will support you versus setting you back?
It is all about your focus and where you are putting your attention. Put your attention on what is in your life today and make a habit of saying a prayer of thankfulness to God. Thank God for the little things all the way to the big things. Put your attention on gratitude. Replace a habit of wanting more with a habit of being content and showing gratitude. Living a life of gratitude for everything from health to relationships in your life is the antidote for living within your means. It is hard not to be content with the here and now you are practicing gratitude. It, all of the sudden, brings back your attention to taking care of the present versus focusing on what you interpret as missing.
Most importantly, realize that everything you have (I mean every.....thing) is a gift from God. Things look differently viewing the world through that lens. There is a heighten sense of responsibility and care applied when you are being a steward over what has been put in your care versus the illusion of ownership. It is all temporary. We are born with nothing and we die taking nothing with us. We are just here, renting and care-taking in gratitude for what is given to us.
This creates the ultimate solution to living within your means - it ultimately brings your attention back to God. Isn't that the real solution to everything?