Recently, I’ve noticed 5 and 10 day gratitude challenges circulating around Facebook. I’ve enjoyed reading some of the posts and thought it a bit humorous when a few began to grumble about running out of ideas to jot down on their lists. Since today is my 105th consecutive day of writing 10 DIFFERENT “things” each day for which I am grateful, I thought I would share how this practice of gratitude has changed my perspective and my life.
The key to creating abundance in any area of your life – financial, love, peace, joy, fulfillment, health, etc. – is feeling abundant NOW. You have to feel it in your bones every minute of every day. Unfortunately, most of us are just not wired that way these days. Leading the parade in “wiring” our brains to be aware of the lack in our lives are the news media, politicians and advertisers. They tell us on a very regular basis that we’re just not enough – not good looking enough, not healthy enough, not rich enough, not smart enough, we don’t have enough things, there’s not enough to go around, etc. And of course, we march right along behind them believing and repeating their “I’m not enough” mantra.
Effectively changing this now hard-wired belief in “not enough” requires intentional, conscious and repetitive action to literally re-wire our “lack” mentality. The easiest and fastest approach is to establish a daily practice of gratitude. According to Christy Whitman, Jesus and others, it takes 40 consecutive days to re-program our brains and experience a lasting shift in our thinking. So…after a couple of false starts, I finally began my own committed regimen in June. I wanted to experience this shift for myself.
The first few days were simple. I easily and quickly jotted down the big picture stuff like my family, my home, important people in my life, some of my possessions…that sort of thing. By the end of the first week though, I was literally having to LOOK for things to be grateful for. This practice of gratitude is more than just listing 10 things on a piece of paper though; it requires pausing to feel the gratitude for each item we list. So I zoomed in on my life a bit more and began to notice a lot of the “smaller” things in my life for which I was very grateful. I then populated my lists with such bullets as various aspects of the beauty around me, specific items of furniture, events that were taking place, cool technology, the general nature and good health of the people in my life.
Still, within another few days, I was running out of “gratitudes” to add to my list. I went through several cycles of having to really focus in on the abundance that truly surrounds me on a daily basis. My lists began to contain such things as…INDOOR PLUMBING and FLOORS in my house! I hear you laughing. I think it’s funny too, but truly, these things are a luxury to many around the world and I really, REALLY am grateful that we have them here. Other items on my list included positive aspects of the people in my life, the impact and influence that particular people have on me, individual body parts – like my hands that allow me to write and play in the dirt with my flowers, my brain that’s always coming up with crazy ideas, and my feet that reliably take me wherever I want to go. I listed the individual kinds of birds that I watch from my windows, the many flowers scattered about my yard, the quiet of my neighborhood (fully aware there are no bombs or guns firing in the distance), the freedom with which I go about my day, the nails and screws that hold my house together, sanitation workers who take away my trash on a regular basis, and so on.
By the end of 40 days of listing and feeling grateful for 10 different things each day, I way soaring. I felt so energized, so inspired, just SO, SO grateful for all the incredible aspects of my life in the here and now that I felt like I was walking on air. How I felt about all of life changed so drastically (and I thought it was really good before) that I just knew I had to continue this daily practice of gratitude. I look forward to it, and I find that I am constantly looking around for more things to appreciate. This is the whole point. Creating a habit of looking for the abundance in our lives makes us feel abundant, and when we feel abundant – when we feel the gratitude, many more “things” come into our lives on a daily basis that simply perpetuate that feeling.
So go ahead, take that gratitude challenge. As you jot down what you’re grateful for, take a moment to feel the gratitude in your heart. And if you really want to change your life, keep up the challenge for at least 40 consecutive days. Write 10 different things each day for which you are grateful, feel the gratitude for each and experience the incredible flow of abundance come into your life.