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“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie

The basic concept of Financial Time Traveler is to help you achieve your goals at a faster rate. However, there is no success in accumulating wealth without fulfillment. Millions adorned Robin Williams, as he carried the ability to make anyone in the world smile, yet was unable to find happiness in his life. The tragic end to an incredible person left the world heartbroken by someone who was known as a heart warmer. As we are always sharpening our skills in building wealth, it is equally important we remain focused on the key ingredients to a life well-lived. The difference between “momentary happiness” and “framework happiness” is the difference between enjoying a bowl of ice cream and being someone who lives a life of purpose and identity. Gratitude is an essential ingredient to “framework happiness.”

It is no secret that stress causes physical destruction on a mass scale. No person is immune to the dangers of stress, which is a measure of your internal and external reaction to events outside of your control. When we experience anxiety, we release adrenaline and noradrenaline into our bloodstream which signals the body through neurotransmitters that we must survive an incoming emergency. The switch has been turned on to crisis mode, which would be equivalent to driving 20mph to instantly flooring the gas pedal. Studies indicate that stress is the number one cause of sudden death. Heart disease is the biggest culprit of death in America (by far), and sudden death is the very first symptom in half of heart disease cases. Yikes!

Here is the good news, there is a multitude of research that show physical health benefits which counteract your stress levels. Living a life of gratitude is one action we all can take that will not only improve our personal quality of life, but the quality of life for others as well. Gratitude has been shown to help kids feel connected to their community, feel better about their school, and open the door to more relationships. Check out this study where researchers show people who are grateful tend to live healthier lives. Gratitude can also strengthen empathy and self-esteem while lowering aggression. These are all traits we can utilize to fight the stress epidemic without prescription pills, rememberimg that prevention is better than cure. I forget who told me this bit of advice years ago, but it has stuck with me ever since, “it’s hard to be depressed when you are so grateful for everything around you.” That quote piggybacks off of the Greek philosopher and stoic Epictetus saying, “he is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”

How do we nurture gratitude and convey gratitude? How do we become “framework happy” by being who we want to be and not “momentarily happy,” always searching for the greener grasses? Well, a good way to start is to stop talking and start doing (seems fair). With the advent of technology, it has never been easier to help those in need, which is a great start for most of us!

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy

There has been growing controversy in the world philanthropy with documentaries such as Poverty, Inc., which outline the damaging effects large NGOs have against third world countries. The argument is that fighting poverty has become an industrialized business model, with organizations such as the NFL claiming non-profit status. One of the great stories in Poverty, Inc. is of an American family who felt moved to adopt a Haitian child from an orphanage. Long story short, the couple quickly found out that the boy was not an orphan. His mother loved him deeply but was scared for his safety growing up in the slums. The couple felt confused why they would be spending over $20k to adopt a child who has a loving parent, instead of spending $20k on helping that mother escape the slums and raise her child in safety. Many other examples like this left me scratching my economic head. Which is why I created this list of charities I vetted and felt convicted in helping. All descriptions were pulled directly from the websites of each charity.

Today’s Future Sound, todaysfuturesound.org

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“At Today’s Future Sound, we believe in the power of music to transform and inspire youth to create positive change in their lives and communities. We view our work as having educational, therapeutic and social components that can empower individuals to build confidence, inspire creativity, and create change. Today’s Future Sound (TFS) has a team of volunteers ready to bring our mobile music production and DJ’ing center to you—schools, community centers and events. We are rapid-deploying, fully mobile, and can teach all ages groups with no previous experience required. Aside from direct services, we also provide consultation and professional development around culturally relevant use of music technology and media arts, and common core-aligned STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, and Arts) curriculum development. Our work is informed by our Executive Director, Elliot Gann, Psy.D.’s research and decade of clinical experience using Hip Hop and electronic music production and DJ”ing in school as well as community settings in Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area.”

Acres of Hope, acresofhopeonline.org

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The vision of Acres of Hope is to provide a safe family environment and a healthy living program for women with children that sets the foundation of change and breaks the cycle of homelessness. The mission of Acres of Hope is to improve the physical, emotional, social, economic and spiritual quality of life for homeless women and their children. We accomplish this by identifying and replacing faulty belief systems that drive destructive behaviors with biblically based truths and the implementation of healthy life skills.”

Kiva, kiva.org

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“We believe lending alongside thousands of others is one of the most powerful and sustainable ways to create economic and social good. Lending on Kiva creates a partnership of mutual dignity and makes it easy to touch more lives with the same dollar. Fund a loan, get repaid, fund another. Whether you lend to friends in your community, or people halfway around the world (and for many, it’s both), Kiva creates the opportunity to play a special part in someone else’s story. At Kiva, loans aren’t just about money—they’re a way to create connection and relationships.”

Modest Needs, modestneeds.org

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“Founded in 2002, Modest Needs is a non-profit organization with a unique, threefold mission. Modest Needs exists:

To responsibly provide short-term financial assistance to individuals and families in temporary crisis who, because they are working and live just above the poverty level, are ineligible for most types of conventional social assistance but who (like many of us) are living one or two lost paychecks away from the kind of financial catastrophe that eventually leads to homelessness;

To lessen the burden of state and federal agencies charged with the care of the truly indigent by doing everything in our power to stop these at-risk households from slipping into the cycle of poverty, despite the burden posed by an unanticipated, emergency expense; and

To promote compassion and generosity on the part of individual persons living in the United States and Canada, the areas that we serve, by standing as a living testament to the power of human kindness to change lives, no matter how much (or how little) a person has to share.”

Changing the Present, changingthepresent.org

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“Changing The Present, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit website offers gifts that change the world. Browse our causes to find gifts that make a difference, or search for your favorite nonprofit to make a donation. You can share these gifts with your friends and family, or use them for your own nonprofit giving.

Our gifts are a great alternative to that bath set or novelty sweater you were planning to wrap up this holiday season — just choose “Create A Card” from the shopping cart to send a personalized greeting card announcing each gift you donate in a friend’s name.”

*Bonus, watch Tony do what he does best!*