Because it is Thanksgiving week here in the U.S., today’s post is an excerpt on gratitude from my book Give From the Heart, Receive What you are Worth. Happy Thanksgiving!
Gratitude is the second pillar on which to build your build your money mindset. Gratitude is a powerful antidote for fear and a poverty mentality. You can’t be focused on scarcity, lack and fear when you are focused on gratitude.
Herbert Benson, MD and Hans Selye, PhD, were some of the early researchers studying stress and its effects on the body. They discovered that the feelings of stress and gratitude could not co-exist in the brain and body. When you are in a state of gratitude and thanksgiving, you can not have the physical and emotional reactions of stress.
Gratitude focuses your attention on what you do have and what is going well. Shawn Anchor led a research project studying happiness and the effects of positive psychology at Harvard. He found that gratitude is an essential part of being happy. Happy, optimistic people train their brains to scan their environment looking for things that are going well and things to be grateful for. Even in times of crises, they are searching for opportunities and ways to make positive changes in their environment.
What you focus your attention on will expand and amplify. When you are grateful and focusing on the positive, the positive will expand and there will be more to be grateful for.
Let me share a personal experience I had with the transformative power of gratitude. Several years ago, I had wonderful opportunity to travel alone with my best friend from childhood. With kids, husbands, business and the “busyness” of life, this was a rare treat.
We met in Las Vegas for a conference. My friend and her husband are very financially successful and are some of the most generous people I know. We were heading to dinner the first night and my friend found that her husband had slipped $500 into her wallet so we could have some fun. After dinner, we went into the casino to play the slots. I had my $20 budgeted for slots ready to go. My friend had a different idea. She pulled out a $100 bill and tried to hand it to me. I was stunned and refused to take it.
Please understand, this is a woman I have known since fifth grade. We had been through hell together and I knew she would do anything for me. But I couldn’t take money from her. She got really annoyed with me so I finally took the money to appease her. She pointed to the slot machine and said, “Put it in there.” I may have taken the money, but I was not going to put that $100 bill in a slot machine.
She grabbed the money out of my hand, put it in the machine and told me to sit down and play. I was sick. And to make matters worse, I quickly took that $100 down to zero. Now, I felt nauseated and angry at myself. I walked around to the machine to find her and as quickly as I had taken my $100 to $0 she had taken her $100 to $200.
Of course she did! I have always teased her about having the Midas touch where everything she touches turns to gold. My negative thinking kicked in big time. She gave me another $100 which I took to $40 and then I cashed it out.
She had to leave Vegas before I did, so I went back to the casino one evening after she left. I took my $40 ticket, held it in my hand and thought about how grateful I was to have her in my life. I gave thanks for how generous she and her husband are and how much I appreciated them sharing their abundance with me. They gave me that money so I could have fun, and so I was going to have fun. As I sat there feeling the gratitude for her, for them and for the gift they gave me, I stuck the ticket in the machine and I very quickly took that $40 up to $136.
It was in that moment that all the spiritual principals about gratitude, receiving and abundance and how they work with the energy of money clicked in a very tangible way with me. It was powerful.
Of course, it’s easy to be in gratitude when things are going well. But what about when things aren’t going well, how do you continue to stay in gratitude? Well, I must admit that it can be really challenging to stay in gratitude when unfortunate things happen that seem outside of your control. It’s very easy to feel like a victim of circumstances and fall into fear, anger and defeat. As soon as you do this, you begin creating your reality from a negative place.
The truth is that unfortunate things happen. Life is often painful and messy. That’s because in order to have joy, you have to have pain. The Law of Polarity tells us that when something exists, its opposite must also exist at the same time. While this may seem like discouraging news, it’s actually really great news. That means that within every tragic or unfortunate circumstance, there is at least one blessing to be grateful for.
I taught Reiki for many years. One of the five Reiki principles is “Be grateful today.” To illustrate this point, we used a parable, which I’ll share with you now:
In a little village out in the country, there lived an old man who owned a very beautiful horse. Even though he was very poor, he always turned down offers to sell his horse because it had become like a friend to him. The other villagers thought him eccentric and stupid because he could have ended his poverty by selling the horse.
One day the horse’s stable was found to be empty. The villagers were convinced that the animal had been stolen and agreed that the old man would have been better off selling it in the first place. The old man remarked that the only ascertainable fact was that the horse was absent from the stable and told the others not to judge the situation.
A while later the horse came back by itself, bringing a dozen wild horses to the old man’s property. Now the villagers thought that a great fortune had come to the old man, but again he told them only to look at the facts and not to judge a small fragment of reality without knowing the whole.
The old man’s only son soon started to train the wild horses. One day he fell and broke his legs. The villagers again thought that this was a great calamity since he was the only help his father had. But the old man stuck to his non-judgmental viewpoint.
Soon after, a war broke out with a neighboring kingdom and all the young men of the state were drafted except the old man’s crippled son. And the story continues …
We tend to look at circumstances from a very narrow perspective and sort events into good and bad. When “negative” circumstances occur, I challenge you to step back, look at the whole picture, find the blessings and opportunities hidden there and celebrate them in gratitude.
Living in Gratitude
Be grateful everything you have. Give thanks for all of your material resources—money, shelter, transportation, food, clothing—as well as for the people, relationships and love in your life.
Be grateful for getting what you have asked for—for what you have already received and what you are preparing to receive.
Be grateful for your skills, knowledge, education, experience and contacts. They are the sources and foundation for future income.
Be grateful for your debt. It is your faith in your future earning potential.
Be grateful for all the opportunities to learn and grow.
Action Steps for Living in Gratitude
When you pay bills, be grateful for the money you have to pay each bill and for the amenities that are provided by each company. Also be grateful to your creditors for their faith in your earning potential.
Any time you spend money, bless it and send it out into the world to do good. Take a minute to consider all the lives the money will touch and then imagine it coming back to you ten-fold.
If you are struggling with gratitude, make a list of 50 things for which you are grateful. Every day add five things to that list. Look for things. Don’t just list the same things every day. Doing this exercise trains your brain to look for and focus on the positive things in your life.
I’d love to hear what you are thankful for in the comments below.
If enjoyed this excerpt and are interested in reading my entire book, you can purchase the ebook here.