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A Gratitude Challenge

I consider my Gratitude Journal to be my most powerful tool in life. Each morning begins with writing down all the things I am grateful for. This simple act has had a stunning impact on my life today, but it wasn’t always this way.

After many years of doing gratitude journal and NOT having any significant changes  in my life, I had a major epiphany.

Most people are introduced to the concept by being told, “Write down 5 things you are grateful for each day”. They do that and after six months they say, “Well, that’s very nice, but my life isn’t much different.” So they stop.

If I told you that you could get flat abs by doing 5 sit ups a day, you’d think I was crazy. Gratitude is the same way. You get flat abs by working at it constantly. You get an attitude of gratitude by working at it until it becomes second nature.

At first, I began every day with a list of 10 things. Nothing changed in my life. I was about to give it up when I had a small epiphany. I decided to write down anything that made me happy, that I loved, enjoyed or appreciated. I was easily filling my book with 20-30 things each day.

Then one day, I had a crazy thought. Could I find 100 things that I was grateful for? It seemed intimidating. I knew I would be struggling to list 100 things; I’d have to stretch hard to do it…. But I felt inspired to give it a shot.

I was on fire for the first 50 items. The more I wrote down, the more passionate and excited I got. Items were filling my head faster than I could write them down. I was on a total high.

Then I slowed down… and I had to really think about my world, the different parts of my world, the people I knew, the decisions I made, the experiences that shaped me, the things I took for granted. All the beautiful things that I never really “saw” until that day.

That was when I “got” it. Gratitude is about retraining your mind in how it experiences the world. If I hadn’t been challenged to find 100 things, I wouldn’t have been pushed to see how incredibly beautiful and wonderful my world truly was. I became grateful for things I hadn’t been acknowledging. And with 20/20 hindsight, I was finding gratitude in things that seemed dismal at the time.

I felt amazing when I hit #100. The next day, I reflected on this challenge and I found myself wondering whether I could do it again. I took my journal and once again, listed 100 more things I was grateful for. As before, I struggled to fill a list of 100 items. It forced me to take an even deeper look at all areas of my world

This simple challenge changed how I saw my world. It sensitized me to the beauty and grace of everything around me. It made me aware of all the phenomenal things in my world that I had taken for granted. This simple exercise is exactly what created the stunning impact on my life today.

Need some ideas on things to be grateful for to help you get started?

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Finding 100 Things to be Grateful For

A few months ago, I challenged myself to find 100 things in my life to be grateful for. When I share this story with others, people oftentimes look lost and express their doubt that they can do the same. If you want to take on this challenge and you find yourself struggling with getting to #100, here are some thoughts to nudge you along.

First, I recognize that some of these are not going to apply to you. You may be recovering from an illness or an accident or had a childhood of hardship. If that is the case, shift your focus to being grateful for whatever good you can find. Whatever hardship you are experiencing in your life, recognize that it could be much worse.

The key here is to be specific. When you write about your family, friends or yourself, write exactly what traits you value and appreciate. You can always use it later to create the most touching and best gift ever.

Lastly, when I do Gratitude Journal, I start every entry with one of the following: “I am SO grateful for…” or “I love…” or “I deeply appreciate…”. Let yourself get emotional and REALLY feel the love and appreciation. Be effusive and gushy. Emotion deepens the power of gratitude. It makes it real, and not just words on paper.

So… what kinds of things might you be grateful for? Here are some ideas to draw from.

Your Health and Body

  • The gift of sight, speech, hearing, smell, taste (and what do you LOVE seeing, hearing, tasting, sensing?)
  • Having strong bones, smooth skin, healthy teeth, strong digestion, healthy heart, etc.
  • The ability to walk, reproduce, move freely, think clearly, or carry your own child.
  • What features do you love? Your hair, your smile, your laugh, your hands, your eyes, your cute butt, etc.

Your Friends

  • Their sense of humor (can they always get you in a good mood, raise your spirits?)
  • How reliable they are (when did they really come through for you?)
  • How fun they are (what makes them so fun? Common interests? Quirky personalities? Adventurous spirits?
  • The way they give great advice (when did they help you through a tough time?)
  • How they inspire you or motivate you (when did they made a big difference in your life?)
  • Thoughtful things they do (remembering your birthday, treating you to coffee, baking your favorite cookies).
  • Remembering to invite you or include you for outings and parties.
  • Favors they have done for you, gifts they have given you, kind words or meaningful compliments they’ve given you.
  • The way they just listen when you need to talk.
  • Friends who stood by you during difficult times and hardships.

Your Family

  • Did you have enough food growing up?
  • Were you raised in a reasonably safe neighborhood?
  • Were your basic needs provided for?
  • What traits did you love about your mother, father and siblings?
  • Did your parents take you on vacations? What special memories do you have from those trips?
  • Did they make meals you loved? Take good care of you when you were sick?
  • Did they give you special gifts for holidays or birthdays? Maybe something that meant a lot to you at the time? Did you like how they celebrated your birthdays or graduations?
  • Did they pass on heirlooms to you? Or give special possessions to you?
  • Did they financially support you when they didn’t really have to?
  • Did they sacrifice for you? Work two jobs to put food on the table?
  • Did they instill values, beliefs or practices that positively affected your life?
  • Were they good role models? Were they caring? Honest? Dependable? Did they show you unconditional love?
  • Any favorite memories from childhood? What moments still warm your heart today?

Your Own Characteristics

  • Consider traits like your sense of humor, intelligence, intuition, dedication, discipline, commitment, persuasiveness, kindness, compassion, etc.
  • Are you a helpful person? Do you do volunteer work? Are you a good cheerleader for others?
  • Do you have common sense, good judgement, integrity, strong morals/ethics, or unshakable integrity?
  • What knowledge or skills are you grateful for having? Are you handy? Creative? Have a great sense of style? Always know the right thing to say? Good at handling conflict? Learn things easily? Have a natural talent for sports? An amazing cook or a great writer?
  • What values are you most proud of? Who or what ingrained those values in you?
  • What parts of your work life are you most proud of? Are you always on time? Excellent with following up? A strategic thinker? Good at planning things? Give stellar customer service? Great at solving problems? Addressing conflict?
  • What kinds of things have you accomplished or overcome? A fear of public speaking? Run a 5k? Have you published something? Performed or competed?
  • What attributes of yourself are you most proud of? Are you thoughtful? Reliable? Have integrity? Romantic? Creative? Friendly? Extroverted? Witty? A great story teller? Fun at parties?
  • What hobbies have contributed to your quality of life? Did you have teachers, trainers or coaches who you learned from or who encouraged you?

School

  • Did you have teachers who inspired you?
  • Classes that you especially enjoyed?
  • Any fond memories of old classmates?
  • How did school inspire you or prepare you for life ahead?
  • Did you receive financial aid for school? Did your parents pay for your education? Did anyone help you through school? Tutors? Study groups? Counselors?

Life in General

  • Do you like the sunshine? The rain? Cold weather? I am grateful every day for the warm, bright sunshine!
  • Are you grateful for having downtime to just relax, watch tv, or hang out with friends?
  • Are you grateful for where you live and what you live close to?
  • Do you like your home? What parts of your home do you love?
  • Are you grateful for having a roof over your head? Do you live in a generally safe neighborhood?
  • Do you have reliable transportation? Have a car with air conditioning or a heater that works?
  • What conveniences are you grateful for? Microwave ovens? Garage door openers?

This should give you some ideas of how to begin looking at your world differently…. Don’t forget that even some of the painful moments in your life may have been gifts that weren’t realized until later in life. Getting laid off from a job ultimately turned me into an entrepreneur who works from home (my dream life!).

I have found that virtually everything in my life was a blessing in some way – and therefore, something to be grateful for.

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I Won’t Wish You Good Luck

I stopped wishing people “good luck” a while ago. Not because they didn’t deserve it, but because I had an epiphany.

Luck is something that happens by chance – something that is out of your control. Whether good or bad, luck is what happens to you, not by you.

I don’t believe things happen randomly. And I would never wish random chance upon another.

I no longer talk about “luck”. I now talk about “fortune”.

I believe fortune is something we build with our own hands, with the power of our own creative and brilliant minds. Our level of fortune is something we control by our beliefs, our intentions, and our actions.

After doing gratitude journal, I often pause for a moment of reflection. I don’t think about how lucky I am. I reflect upon the fortune I am attracting and creating in my life. I rejoice in my power to build a life of fortune.

Every day, I am reminded of my own power as I do gratitude journal. I am clearly in control – look at all these pages of amazing things I am bringing into my life! Nothing is happening here by chance. My beliefs, actions and intentions are creating fortune in every area of my life, every day – bit by bit.

I’m constantly attracting opportunities, inspiration, kindness, generosity, creative ideas, the right people and the right circumstances. I set my intentions, dismantle the blocks and gratefully receive all that comes.

I don’t need luck when I am in control. Wishing “good luck” seems to  subvert ones power by suggesting that they don’t directly influence their own future. Instead, I’d rather convey my intention that good fortune will support them.

So I won’t wish you good luck. But when I say, “Good fortune to you”, know that I’m setting a direct and clear intention for you. And let that be an invitation for you to join me in setting the intention for the result  you are seeking.

All fortunes start with an intention. Whatever result you want, empower yourself by taking command instead of relinquishing the reins to the winds of chance. The power to create is within your hands.

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Photo Credit: Hooping as a Tool for Manifestation.

A Gratitude Challenge

I consider my Gratitude Journal to be my most powerful tool in life. Every morning I write down all the things I am grateful for. This simple act has had a stunning impact on my life.

After many years of doing gratitude journal and NOT having any significant changes  in my life, I had a major epiphany.

Most people are introduced to the concept by being told, “Write down 5 things you are grateful for each day”. They do that and after six months they say, “Well, that’s very nice, but my life isn’t much different.” So they stop.

If I told you that you could get flat abs by doing 5 sit ups a day, you’d think I was crazy. Gratitude is the same way. You get flat abs by working at it constantly. You get an attitude of gratitude by working at it until it becomes second nature.

At first, I began every day with a list of 10 things. Nothing changed in my life. I was about to give it up when I had a small epiphany. I decided to write down anything that made me happy, that I loved, enjoyed or appreciated. I was easily filling my book with 20-30 things each day.

Then one day, I had a crazy thought. Could I find 100 things that I was grateful for? It seemed intimidating. I knew I would be struggling to list 100 things; I’d have to reach, stretch, hurt my little brain to do it…. I figured it was worth trying.

I was on fire for the first 50 items. The more I wrote down, the more passionate and excited I got… items were filling my head faster than I could write them down. I was on a total high.

Then I slowed down… and I had to really think about my world, the different parts of my world, the people I knew, the past I had, the decisions I made, the things I took for granted, the beautiful things that I never really “saw” until that day.

That was when I “got” it. Gratitude is about retraining your mind in how it experiences the world. If I hadn’t been challenged to find 100 things, I wouldn’t have been pushed to see how incredibly beautiful and wonderful my world truly was. I became grateful for things I hadn’t been acknowledging.

I felt amazing when I hit #100. The next day, I reflected on my challenge to find 100 things and I found myself asking whether I could do it again. I took my journal and once again, listed 100 more things I was grateful for.

This simple challenge changed how I saw my world. It sensitized me to the beauty and grace of everything around me. That is what shifted me into naturally finding gratitude in most everything I do and experience.

The result? When you are truly, deeply grateful, life gives you more to be grateful for. The key to having a life of wonder, ease and joy? Gratitude.

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