Sometimes, I go online and play around with ‘retirement calculators’. You know what I mean, you fill in the boxes with your financial information and then hit the ‘calculate’ button. The calculator generates what your retirement income will be if you save ‘x’ per month, or get ‘such and so’ a rate of return, or live on ‘____ %’ after you retire. If you don’t like what you see? You merely re-adjust the inputs. With a little fudging, you can cheer yourself considerably.
Sometimes, just for fun, I’ll set my rate of investment return at 500%/day, just to see the numbers rocket upward. Gives you a good feeling, you know?
You can adjust all sorts of variables and voila(!), you change the future. For example, if you set your retirement age to say, 156 years old, you will be pleased to see that at your present rate of savings – you will be fine. You could even cut back a little. Or when they ask you ‘how many years do you expect to be in retirement?’ – try setting the number at 1 – you’ll be astonished at how well you can live for that 12 months.
Yes, there are all sorts of adjustments to improve your financial outlook. But, I noticed, as I’ve fiddled with these calculators, that one adjustment is missing. And it is the largest single investment that you can make to improve your outlook, financial or otherwise. Missing on these calculators is a ‘gratitude’ adjustment. I looked on several sites – and I didn’t see it anywhere. No place to input Gratitude/Annum; no place to account for Thankfulness/Month.
And yet, without gratitude no amount of money is enough. Everyone knows this. So, I’ll say it again, without gratitude, no amount of anything is enough. Ingratitude divides your life by halves. But gratitude multiplies your life – even exponentially. Gratitude is the magic investment.
So I felt this must be an oversight. I wrote the AARP about their calculator: “To Whom it May Concern, I have looked at your online retirement calculator and the ‘gratitude input’ button is definitively missing. Please correct this gross oversight, so that I might move on with my life.”
They wrote back: “Dear Mr. Edwards, We received your suggestion about including a ‘gratitude input’ button on our online retirement calculator. However, our engineers inform us that gratitude is not a mathematical quantity and therefore cannot be programmed into the calculator. They suggest that instead of attempting to adjust our calculator, that you adjust your attitude.”
Hmmm…. They are right. I’ve had it all backwards.
I’ve been trying to increase my life’s savings in order to then express gratitude. But the true way to invest is just the opposite. I need to express my gratitude in order to increase my life.
How about that? Right in front of me, this whole time, is the adjustment that I need. In order to have an abundant life, I thought I needed to invest more money, money – which is scarce and limited. And what I really need to invest is gratitude, which is unlimited and free.
Roger Edwards joined The Barnabas Center in 1991. He works with both with individuals and couples, helping people confess their need and embrace their available choices to lead healthier lives. Roger also teaches and leads discussion groups and retreats applying the Gospel to everyday life. He is a licensed professional counselor (LPC), holds a master’s degree in biblical counseling from Grace Theological Seminary in Indiana and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is married to Jean and they have seven children and nine grandchildren.