About five years ago now, my financial security was threatened by circumstances in my life over which I had absolutely no control.
As a single parent, I had spent years scrimping and saving and just getting by. While I had managed to build a small financial cushion, the idea of dipping into my savings to get by each month terrified me. When I allowed myself to turn towards the dark alley of fear that seemed ever present, I’d feel overwhelmed worrying about what might happen when the cushion was gone.
As the months went by and my savings diminished, little mantras that revolved around gratitude began popping into my head. I recorded these gratitude principles in the front cover of my 2007 journal. I am not quite sure where these principles came from as I had definitely grown up in a family that emphasized and fretted over the half-empty glass. I had never learned how to foster a positive attitude, much less how to express gratitude. Yet from somewhere came the guidance to foster gratitude instead of fear.
As I look back on that year, I am amazed by the amount of peace that I felt in spite of my difficult circumstances. It was a year that taught me so much about trusting my path; about the absolute futility of worry; and about the amazing power of gratitude.
The “Gratitude Principles” that kept me afloat during that difficult year were as follows:
1. Gratitude is awareness that, as things come to you, they are exactly what you need - be it people, circumstance, or challenges.
2. Worry is the opposite of gratitude; it is the failure to understand that you have been and will continue to be provided for each day.
3. Whenever fear over your future encroaches, stop to observe a tree. Consider how the tree continues to stand tall and grow throughout the various cycles and seasons of its life span.
4. Worry is an action. Gratitude is an action. Both are optional. By choosing gratitude you drive out the space and time for worry.
5. It isn’t hard to do; gratitude is simply noticing the good stuff in your life.
6. What you pay attention to, or notice, tends to expand and grow.
7. Each day brings a multitude of opportunities to feel gratitude and appreciation.
8. When you neglect the action of appreciating, you limit your potential for joy and contentment in the present moment.
9. Worry does not prevent bad things from happening; it only prevents you from accessing joy in this moment.
10. The present moment is the only place where joy and contentment can exist.