Alchemia

At the Alchemia Group we are helping our clients think & act differently in regards to their wealth and its impact on thier family - because we know it is more than just numbers and plans, it's the Balance of Art & Science with Pragmatism and Vision.

The Gratitude Experience

Let’s make magic in 2014

Much of Legacy, Estate and Financial Planning is based on the fear of loss. Taxes, bad investments, inept family members and the possibility of divorcing spouses drive many of our decisions. Managing and planning against these risks is important but I believe there are other factors that are the ones that lead a meaningful and purposeful family wealth experience. In other words where the magic lies!

This year I’m going to offer up twelve themes that I have seen families use to think and act differently when it comes to their relationship with financial assets. Some will be personal and ‘inward facing’. Others will focus on how you ‘look outward’ on others. At the end will be a planning point that will help in bringing the idea to life in your actual Family Wealth Plan. I hope they are helpful and, as always, I welcome any conversation you would like to have.

January: Is Gratitude Dead?

The word ‘Gratitude’ has become almost over used and many times as a way of chastising or diminishing others. “Show a little gratitude” and “My children aren’t grateful for what they have” are common refrains. I believe gratitude is a personal way of being that begins very low to the ground. Over the recent holidays I heard complaints like ‘Why is it taking so long for my text message to go out!”. And not from children. The alternative is to still marvel in wonder at the very idea of texting.

The Japanese have a practice called Naikan (pronounced Nikon) which is based on grace, gratitude and self-reflection on what we have in life. (There is a wonderful small book on the subject by Gregg Krech which you can buy here.) Here are some of things we take for granted but can experience gratitude for:

The wireless keyboard I’m typing on

The bright blue sky outside

The smile the barrista gave me when I bought coffee

The fact that I can have someone make  coffee for me

I know some of this sounds like ‘softy stuff’. It is not. Spending, at first, just five minutes three or four times a day appreciating the small things in life (the push button opener for your car, the ability to capture your child’s smile on your phone etc…) instead of only noticing them when they don’t live up to expectations will increase your satisfaction and happiness with life.

Stop for a minute right now and look at your personal environment (desk or wherever you happen to be). How many of the things around you did you actually spend time making? From the coffee cup to the pen to the scissors everyone of them serves a function but you didn’t have to build them yourself. Smile and be grateful for them and for the people who made them for you. It is much easier to deal with the problems of life (and there are many real problems) when you are grounded in a counterbalancing sense of appreciation.

Planning Pointer: The idea of gratitude expressed as a simple appreciation for life can be a basic family principle. If you believe in its importance it can be easily expressed in your planning documents. You can discuss with your attorney the idea of a  simple amendment to your Revocable Trust document (or Will which is a little more involved) adding this type of preamble:

“While this document is prepared for a variety of tax and other reasons I want my family to know how much I appreciate them and am grateful to have experienced them in my life. I hope they are lucky enough to see all there is in life to be grateful for.”

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The Gratitude Experience