When I was 29 years old, I went through the most difficult time of my life. Within a 3 month period, I was robbed at gunpoint, filed for divorce, left the Mormon church as an orthodox Mormon, and was fired from my job at the university I had been working at for 3 years.
It was a time of reflection and really going deep within myself to understand what I wanted and how I was going to get it. It was also the time that I started working on myself. Really working on myself.
One of the first things that I did was start with daily meditations. I chose Deepak Chopra's meditations. During one of those meditations, I heard Oprah Winfrey say something to the effect of daily gratitude being one of the most transformational practices she has ever had in her life. Then she went on to say that she wrote in a gratitude journal every night, 5 things that she was grateful for that day.
I decided I wanted to start doing that practice right then and there. I definitely needed a transformation, and I definitely wanted to start figuring out what my blessings were, because, honestly it was hard to focus on anything besides loneliness, grief, and sadness at that point.
It has now been 16 years and I still enjoy the practice of writing 5 things I am grateful for every night! And it has indeed been transformative in my life.
These are the 5 things I learned from a regular gratitude practice:
1. The law of attraction is real!
I am sure you have heard the phrase, whatever you focus on is what comes into your life. I found out that the more I focused on gratitude, the more things came into my life that I could be grateful for. From the simple smiles of the strangers who helped me to feel seen, to the phone calls from friends…not to mention the strangers keeping the subway doors open for me as I rushed with my daughter to make the train. All of the small things that add up to your day just make it better and in-flow!
2. Your reality can change!
So many times we feel stuck and hopeless about our circumstances and we don’t think they can change. I am here to tell you that they can. That job I was fired from above, I actually fought to keep it and worked there for another very successful 9 years.
I have also seen relationships change, circumstances change, and dreams manifested into reality in my own life, and I know a lot of it has to do with gratitude. We have to appreciate where we are now to be able to move in the direction of our goals.
3. The power of gratitude is infectious.
Have you ever asked someone, “What are your two highlights for the day?” I do all the time and a lot of times it is a blank stare.
This happened the first time I asked my boyfriend, now husband, that question. Now, it is a ritual at the dinner table and sometimes it is hard to contain him or my daughters to just two highlights. They are so excited to share all the fun things of the day.
And when you have that energy in any room, it feels so light and happy and wonderful. Try it sometime!
4. Gratitude allows us to create and visualize our goals.
When you focus on the things that you are grateful for, you understand what really matters to you and makes you happy. When you understand that, it is easy to curate how to get more of it. Therefore, it creates a framework for your goals.
An example of this was when I first moved to New York and was living below the poverty line. I would go to Cadman Plaza with my daughter in her stroller and sit on the benches surrounded by the irises. It was something that I did regularly and would write about in my journal regularly. Then, at one point I would go and close my eyes and visualize myself living right there and having the money to do it. I was happy there and I knew that is where I wanted to live.
15 months ago I moved to an amazing apartment with my husband and daughters one block away from that exact spot where I used to eat lunch! If you want to hear more about how gratitude and visualization helped me find my husband, you can read that here.
5. Gratitude for the Hard Things can be the most transformative.
This has been the hardest lesson for me to learn through my gratitude journey. I will admit, it is still something that is very challenging for me.
When things don’t go as planned or take longer than I want them to, it is very difficult to be grateful. Still, I have begun writing this in my gratitude journal lately.
I write things like “Thank you for the learning lesson of not making my financial goal this year and what that can teach me further…”
Even though things are challenging, out of flow, or even just really hard, they are still my learning points. When I think back to the times in my life when I have grown the most, it is through the biggest challenges.
My goal now is to accept, learn and be grateful for even the challenging times in my life.
I wish you all a very beautiful time of Gratitude during this season of Thanksgiving. If you would like to share your stories of gratitude and how they have shaped your life, I would love to hear them. Join me at my next Coffee and Chat and share your stories with me and our community!
Visit us at:
Written by MerriLyn Gibbs