Benefits of Mindfulness Can Extend to Personal Finances

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“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor Frankel, Holocaust survivor 

By Katie Randall

Mindfulness is finally having its moment. The research and benefits of mindfulness are no longer sequestered to yoga or lifestyle magazines, but have found their way into our mainstream culture.

A quick internet search will turn up mindfulness articles in Time, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Harvard Business Review, as well as some of the highest-rated Ted Talks out there. In fact, one of Apple’s 2017 “App of the Year” winners was Calm, a mindfulness and meditation app.

It appears that mindfulness is here to stay—and it’s not just for monks on a remote mountainside in Tibet. And I believe it can be an especially helpful tool with how we relate to our money and the financial decisions we face.

The definition of mindfulness is the regular practice of becoming aware of your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. I believe the most profound part of mindfulness is the process of becoming aware or simply paying attention to our own internal climate. Think about your typical day. In any given moment, we have so much coming at us: constantly-streaming information from social and mainstream media; the pings from our inboxes and text messages; the demands from family relationships and care-taking; that intricate balance between our work life and personal commitments such as coaching and volunteering; and finding quality time for those we love most. And many of these demands—whether real or perceived—require our time or our money.

Amid these stimuli, it can be difficult to become aware of all that’s going on in our mind, bodies, and emotions. I mean, who has the time? That is precisely why mindfulness is a practice—an activity that we perform repeatedly to gain proficiency in it. We can strengthen our mindfulness muscle with regular use. The best part: you can start a mindfulness practice with just two minutes per day.

In my own practice, which I’ve been cultivating for several years now (I started with yoga and moved onto various types of meditation and mindfulness tools), I have found an undeniable link between increased mindfulness and enhanced personal finances. While seeing this unfold was a huge “a-ha!” in my life, I’m not asking you to take my word for it! Research shows that the documented benefits of a regular mindfulness practice include improved cognition and attention span, reduced anxiety and brain distractions, enhanced mood, and a reduction in our own implicit biases.

In my personal and professional experience, mindfulness can provide a recipe for sound financial decision-making, deeper alignment of our spending and savings behavior with our personal values, and overall enhanced financial wellbeing.

In this series we’ll be exploring how to accomplish this, including tools and practices that can enhance your relationship with money, so please stay tuned for more! In the meantime, here’s a simple practice you can start integrating into your day to cultivate more mindfulness with your money. The key to implementing this is simply paying attention. 

Practice: As many times as you can remember during the next three weeks, do the following practice any time you come into contact with your financial information or money decisions (this includes, but isn’t limited to, logging into your bank and investment accounts, reviewing online bill-pay, opening credit card statements, checking your budget, talking with your spouse or loved one about financial decisions, or creating goals.) Perform a quick scan of what’s happening in your body and mind before or during this activity. Are you fatigued, irritated, feel tightness in your chest, uncertain, focused, calm, happy, distracted, feel short on time, etc.?

See what comes up for you. You can write down what you notice on your phone or a piece of paper. Do this each day for three weeks and see if any patterns arise.

Interested in learning more? Join us on March 15 for a workshop focused on mindfulness-based emotional and social intelligence.

Katie Randall serves as an advisor at Brighton Jones.

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