In 2007, I asked God to teach me about money. My business was going well, but I knew I had a few issues around money I wanted to work through. Within months, it was clear that the country was headed for recession. My clients began to scale back and hunker down. Business dried up before my eyes. My former husband and I had always kept our money separate so even though we had money to pay the household bills, for the first time in my adult life, I had no money coming in, and thus no money of my own. I felt deeply vulnerable, alone and afraid.
One afternoon, Oprah featured a show on the subject of gratitude, and how the simple act of listing five things she was grateful for each day had changed her life. Longing for relief from the severe stress and panic I was experiencing, my daughter Brooke and I headed out for gratitude journals of our own. I wanted to see if we would experience the same life changing wonders Oprah had through such a simple practice.
Not long after we started, I realized that even though my bank account was empty, our cupboards and freezer were full. We were miraculously getting by. The money for Brooke’s tuition always appeared. Our household bills were never late. I was even paying off our credit cards. The more I noticed the good in my life, the more it seemed good things happened. I also realized that many of life’s most wonderful moments are actually completely free. A walk on the beach or in the forest. A hand written note to or from a friend. Planting and caring for a garden, making a picnic. Stargazing. Collecting lightning bugs in a bottle. Doing a simple craft or DIY.
We made it through the recession intact.
Through the recession, I learned more about my relationship with money, and had learned how to live life more fully. Because of the significant impact the simple practice of gratitude has made in my life, I have continued keeping a gratitude journal all these years later.
Any practice, over time, can become habitual and a bit stale. Ready to level up, I wondered what would happen if I practiced “deep” gratitude. Writing pages rather than a simple list, digging deeper rather than just scratching the surface. Ultimately, I decided to write 1000 words each day around one of the many things I am grateful for.
Further, I challenged myself to find gratitude in some of the difficulties I encounter, if it’s too raw or painful, I move on, but I have come to experience growth and acceptance from looking for gratitude in situations I really struggled with, leading to my being able to see my role in certain events and even find forgiveness for myself and others.
Looking more deeply into the things I am grateful for seems to expand and deepen my appreciation of life, and to see that even in the difficult moments, we can find new insights, understanding, and compassion. It’s thought me greater faith as well.
There are many beautiful ways to practice gratitude. Brooke keeps a jar and in it she puts a little note each day. At the end of the year, or at any point she is feeling sad, she dumps out her jar, and is reminded of the many blessings in her life. I’ve seen people write in sea shells, or on paper leaves then turn them into a beautiful piece of art. Some people express gratitude as they see it. As for me, I still write in a journal.
Do you practice gratitude? Do you have a creative idea around expressing gratitude? If so, let us know in the comments. I love learning more ways to celebrate life’s blessings.