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The Power of Appreciation in Money and Life

In the world of personal finance, “appreciation” has two important components:

1.In the quantitative realm, appreciation refers to the increasing value of financial assets.

2.In the qualitative realm, appreciation refers to feelings of gratitude for one’s financial resources and circumstances.

Of course, both elements are extremely important, but it is actually the more qualitative “appreciative mindset” that is the best predictor of both increasing wealth and personal well-being in our lives.

In The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life, Lynne Twist teaches that appreciative thinking is the opposite of scarcity thinking:

“When your attention is on what’s lacking and scarce—in your life, in your work, in your family, in your town—then that becomes what you are about.”  

Similarly, Jackie Kelm, author of Appreciative Living, believes that what we pay attention to grows.  She wrote:

“Our attention will create our experience, and if we focus on lack, we create more lack.”

Because of past programming, most of us have formed the habit of focusing on what is going wrong in our financial lives rather than on what is going well.  Our tendency is to identify problems that need to be fixed, rather than noting all the things that are going well.

The truth is, however, that when we direct our attention to problems and breakdowns with money—on both the macro level (markets, financial crisis, etc.) and micro level (personal circumstances, failures, etc.), then that is where our consciousness will reside.  If there is no counterbalance to this perspective, then we will likely continue to think about limitations and obstacles rather than abundance and possibilities.

Therefore, it is best to reflect on the positive aspects in our lives and to focus on the value of what we already have in order to create more of the same.  That’s because, according to Twist, “What you appreciate appreciates,” and Kelm similarly explains, “What you focus on grows.”

“What you appreciate appreciates.” - Lynne Twist


At True Abundance Advisors, we use a simple visualization exercise to help nurture this more positive cycle.  It starts with asking our clients to reflect on specific areas of life such as family, community, finances, work, and learning.  Next, we ask them to make a list (words or short phrases are sufficient) of what is most important to them now in each of these domains, and then to visualize what they hope to experience and/or achieve in the future.   These additional questions help to guide our clients’ thinking and facilitate this process:

1. What do you value most in each area of life?

2. What are your current “riches” in each area of life?

3. What “riches” do you want to include in each area of life in the future?

In a very real sense, this exercise not only helps our clients to appreciate what they already possess, but also helps them to visualize their own unique version of a rich and meaningful life in the years ahead.  The clearer this mental picture becomes, the more it will guide the choices they make and shape the life they will experience in the future.

- adapted from Money Quotient blog, by Carol Anderson