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Episode 018 Gratitude, the seed from which abundance blooms

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Gratitude, Abundance and Prosperity – The seed and the plant

We all want abundance. We all want prosperity. The key to open the door is as simple as gratitude—it shows you what you already have, how prosperous you already are, how supported you are by God and the universe where it really counts. And once you truly feel that in your soul, you open for even more to flow into your space of being. The stories we tell about our abundance now set the stage for what will come. Welcome to episode 18 – where we are going to talk about the seed of gratitude and the plant that grows in to abundance and prosperity.

Stories are our lives in language. Welcome to the Love Your Story podcast. I’m Lori Lee, and I’m excited for our future together of telling stories, evaluating our own stories, and lifting ourselves and others to greater places because of our control over our stories. This podcast is about empowerment and giving you, the listener, ideas to work with in making your stories work for you. Power serves you best when you know how to use it.

We’ve just been through the holiday season. Thanksgiving is a time when we focus, for a moment on what we’re grateful for, while Christmas, quickly on its heels is a time when we shift gears and start thinking about what we want – what gift we will ask for. With January we start planning for what we want to create that we don’t yet have – a flatter stomach, a promotion, more patience, something different than what you have now. I’m all for progression and forward movement, but I’ll let you in on a secret, before we get more, we need to appreciate what we have in the now! And that’s what today’s podcast is about, how gratitude leads to abundance. How being present in the now, and grateful for what is around you at this very moment, is the key to opening more peace of mind, more abundance, and greater prosperity. Let’s get started, because there are really good reasons why life will get a lot better if you make gratitude a constant way of being. Namely: It makes for the very happiest stories.

You’ve heard the saying “You have to know the bad to know the good?” The idea of contrast as a teacher is nothing new, particularly when it comes to gratitude. The moments when the sound track on our lives intensifies because the trauma and drama is about to get amplified is not when we are thinking “Oh yay! I’m about to learn something wonderful.” But, with pain comes the other side of the coin, which is the appreciation for when pain is not present. Let me tell you a story.

When I met death and he stood close enough that his breath was hot on my face, I was left somehow different.  With his retreat he took me, with his bony fingers, past the point of the invincibility of youth.  I arrived at a place of realization, a state of understanding limits in a way that had previously escaped me.  As I lay, unable to move from the pain of broken ribs and punctured lung, fractured skull, deep puncture wounds in my arm, knee, scalp, a broken ankle and fingers, suddenly I was excruciatingly aware of the blessing of a whole body.

I used to rock climb multiple times a week finding a deep fulfillment in disciplining my mind and body to take me one step further than I’d gone before; to feel the rock, sometimes cold, sometimes hot, the finger pockets, the ledges, my aching legs and forearms, the chalk on my fingers and the sweat soaking through it – the adrenalin, the now.  You trust your belay partner or you wouldn’t climb with them, so I never imagined I’d lie at the bottom of a cliff victim of human error, ambulance racing to my broken body.  These are not the things we plan for.

I had weeks to lay and wait for the world and time to pass me by as my body tried to piece itself back together after the 100-foot fall.  This provided thinking time and a profound understanding of a few things I took for granted.

Not being able to lie down or breathe well from the injuries, my head swimming with vertigo when I tilted it back on a pillow, not being able to hold by son because of broken fingers and a broken hand; not being able to stand or walk well due to a broken ankle stripped of ligaments, made so much sweeter the chance to dance, when I finally could, to shower myself, to drive, to walk, to get up off the couch without help. This trauma taught me how much I love my body – how grateful I am for it.  I learned that when whole and healthy it functions smooth and beautiful and that I love to breathe.

While contrast, knowing the bad so we can fully appreciate the good, is one way to become grateful, I’m going to suggest that gratitude can become a habitual way of thinking and need not only come when compelled through comparison.

At its core, abundant living and gratitude is a way of seeing the world. It’s picking the good things out of our stories instead of the bad. I have learned that when we do this, we see and we create more good things! It’s a little like magic.

My story of my climbing accident could focus on the trauma, I could relive and relish telling about the pain and long recovery. I could focus on the belayer who dropped me from the top of the climb and the betrayal and incompetence shown. I could get lost in blame. I could focus on the scars, or I can focus on what I learned. My body has always been a loyal, healthy, beautiful, smoothly functioning friend. It has and continues to serve me well and takes me to physicals heights of exhaustion, ecstasy, and everything in between. I get to focus my story on how I really learned to appreciate the gift of a healthy, functioning body.

I challenge you to find those abundant gifts you take for granted every day and celebrate them!

Let’s talk about the first and most obvious reason why gratitude as a way of living rocks! First and foremost when you start off the day being grateful that you have hot water to shower in, food for breakfast and heat warming your house during the cold winter months, you begin the day with a mindset that allows you to feel supported, happy, fortunate. This mindset is a powerful one to step out on.  Always start with gratitude because it makes you happy, and what better reason could there be?

Real, heart-felt, deep-soul gratitude for the people, conveniences, opportunities, comforts and possibilities in your life is the key to joyful living. Bringing this into your life every day is well-worth the effort. How? In an early episode I shared how I say and gratitude prayer every morning. This gives me a moment that draws my attention to the hot water in my shower, to the health and strength of myself and my children, of the joy in my puppies gait as he hops down the street on his walk. That’s one way. Some people keep a gratitude journal, writing each day a list of things they are grateful for that day. I have found when I’ve done this that going back and reading the entries from the past is the most powerful part. Things I had already forgotten about are there, written on the page for me to relive again. I’m sure there are lots of ways you can bring yourself to a more habitual state of gratitude, find one that works for you BECAUSE…

when you buy now you will also get the extra bonus of ABUNDANCE. Living in abundance is most everyone’s goal to some degree or another. Most people don’t enjoy living in a state of lack. But many people spend a lot of time thinking about lack, and so more lack shows up in their lives. When we focus on what we don’t have, what we don’t have stays as a permanent state. After all, it is what we are focused on. Abundance, on the other hand, is also a mindset! It’s a way of thinking. It’s a magic way of thinking that helps you realize the abundance you currently live in and attract even more of that abundance into your world. Abundance thinking isn’t just about money. It’s about what we’ve been talking about – it’s about gratitude and rolling around in the beautiful abundance that is already available in your life. This looks a little different for everyone because everyone’s circumstances are different.

If you have someone to love, your health, your freedom, and the opportunity of just being alive, you are rich. If you have comforts like all the food you want, friends, indoor plumbing and the occasional night on the town, you have more than many people on this planet. You won the lottery. Of all the people who have every lived on the earth, and of all the people currently alive, to be one that has enough food, the opportunity for education, freedom, clothing, and a roof over your head puts you in the top percentage of abundance, and many of us have even more than that to be grateful for.

Chris Lee, trainer, transformational coach, and author, says in his book Transform Your Life, 10 Principles of Abundance and Prosperity, that when you join your wisdom, talents, and experience with others that you are creating abundance within your relationships and co-creating a network, a community you can draw from and contribute to, and that this is another type of abundance. Do you have a support network, friends, associates? Don’t forget to count that blessing.

There was a time when my kids’ father and I took a trip in a travel trailer for six months through Mexico and the Western United States to see places and make adventures. In a travel trailer you have limited water, electricity only when you plug in, and you have to empty your own black water – no easy flush of the toilet never to see your dinner bi-products again, no you have to empty your own toilet tank, hose out the tubes, and generally get a whole lot closer to the sewer than one is generally used to. When I brushed my teeth I had to get my toothbrush wet quickly then turn off the water because of the limited water. Before this adventure, I often bemoaned paying the utility bills. I was newly married and utilities like power, water, sewer just felt like unalienable rights a person should be given without having to pay for them. Ahhh youth. At any rate, when we returned from six months of life with intermittent utility privileges I was more than happy to pay those utility bills. Those utility bills meant that I had a telephone, and a warm house, and running water and a toilet that took black water far from my thoughts with the flick of a wrist. If you have a place to live and utilities, you are blessed.

I encourage you, even on the hard days-maybe especially on the hard days, to remember that you are abundant now! We have life, we have breath, we have our own set of abilities. These things are the foundation for creation and we get to pick the ball up from there. We would never trade these things for money, any of them. Everyone can begin to live in a state of abundance through gratitude – right now, no matter how much money you have or don’t have. There’s no waiting until you’re super rich, or until you have the new car or the latest and greatest (fill in then blank). That’s missing the point entirely. Abundance is a state of mind, not a stack of things you own. Let me repeat that: Abundance is a state of mind, not a stack of things you own.

Chris Lee is clear that abundance is a state of consciousness. He says that “true abundance has everything to do with how you see the world,” and that “when you live from a place of gratitude and appreciation, you can shift your consciousness quickly from a place of scarcity to a place of abundance.”  He goes on to acknowledge that it sounds too simple, but, he says, “I’m here to tell you that I know it works. You cannot have what you want until you are grateful for what you have…the state of abundance IS gratitude.”

Eckhart Tolle basically shared the same truth when he said, “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

So, on your road to abundance, the first and most critical step is gratitude.  And why not? It’s also the key to happiness.

The bubbling water around me was getting in my ears and the fat hairy man sitting next to me in the Jacuzzi was blocking my view of the moon from the Whistler Resort Hotel in Whistler, British Columbia.  Straining up in my outdoor seat on this April night I attempted to keep the water from spraying in my face and still keep the view of the moon sliding behind the foggy white clouds and coloring them with the eerie light of muted daffodil and a hazy, seaweed green. From the outdoor deck in which we sat cooking ourselves in the hot-tub, I finally gave up trying to see around him and sat back, but his body made the spray of the jets splay up and out from the water’s surface and I succeeded only in getting another face-full of water.  Moving to the other side I found a spot to lean out and over the side, my arms folded over the edge. Finally, I let my mind relax, being massaged by the night sky, by the moon in mystic dance with the clouds, painting them with its borrowed light.  I basked in the exposure of crystal stars while my body was massaged by the warm water.

This snapshot of 30-minutes in British Columbia is a super simple example of the take-away technique. In this tiny story I get to either focus on the man blocking my view and spraying me with water, focus on the irritation and discomfort, or I get to focus on the humor, the gorgeous night sky I was so privileged to sit under, and the great fortune of getting to relax in a hot tub after a day of skiing. That’s a super easy one, but I’ve known people who find the negative in every situation and amplify it by complaint until they and everyone around them is in a miserable funk. Who wants to be that guy? I know nobody likes to be around that guy.

Chris Lee says, “Abundance is the mindset – prosperity is the result.”

We live in a time and culture where everything we could possibly imagine is available if you have enough money. You want to travel across the world and see exotic things – all you need is money. You want a maid, a race car, surgery to rearrange your face into someone else? All you need is money.  We live in profusely prosperous times, but it’s only available for those who have the money, so everyone wants money, seeks abundance, craves the power and freedom allotted by the almighty dollar.

Here’s a quick little reminder from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943. It basically shows a triangle made of 5 tiers. Starting from the bottom, each tier lists a set of human needs that needs to be taken care of before we will focus on the next set. So, the bottom tier shows that we need food, water, warmth and rest. Once we have those things we will seek to find security and safety (the second tier), once we have security and safety we will seek out the third tier, intimate relationships, belonging and friends. The fourth tier is seeking after privilege and feelings of accomplishment, while the fifth tier is self-actualization and focus on achieving one’s full potential. I bring this up in conjunction with a study done in 2010 of 450,000 Americans, by Nobel prize-winning scientist Daniel Kahneman and colleagues at Princeton University. One of the things this study points out is that for those who suffer for food, water and shelter, an increase of money most certainly makes them happier, but past a certain point of income, when all the basic needs are taken care of, then a continual increase in money is NOT the key to happiness. More money does not equate with greater happiness. The goal to make six-figures might be something you want to shoot for, but don’t do it for happiness sake. Happiness is living in that state of recognizing the abundance that surrounds you, and while money opens many opportunities and provides security, at some point you must look at what you are sacrificing for the money. If the acquisition of your money comes at the price of your relationships, and you are past the point of having all you need and more, perhaps your best life move is to cut back on attaining more money for the sake of supposed happiness, and enjoy the prosperity and abundance you have created, and nurture the relationships you are so blessed to abundantly have.

Melanie Greensberg, Ph.D., a practicing psychologist, wrote in her article, Is Money the Secret to Happiness, that “Of peoples greatest regrets at the end of life, not spending more time with their kids when they were young, is one of the most common. Overall, money to meet basic needs is necessary, but not sufficient for life happiness. It is a piece of the pie in overall life satisfaction, along with relationship satisfaction, meaningful work, health and spiritual well-being.”  These are the pieces of life that we get to see abundantly and with gratitude, starting where we are in recognition of the wonderful abundance around us, and creating from that state of abundance.

Ralph Waldo Emerson takes it a step further, he goes beyond just being thankful for the good things.  He says, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

Gratitude, abundance, and prosperity are to each other like a seed and the plant. Gratitude plants the seed of abundance in your life, and from the daily watering and care sprouts happiness and increased prosperity, because focus on the good brings more good blooming into your life. It’s that simple.

This week’s challenge is to go through a couple of your life stories, maybe even a couple of the tough ones, and find the parts and pieces of those stories that give you something to be thankful for. Find the gratitude. Find that state of abundance from which to stand and bask in the ways life is supporting you. Find the night sky instead of the obstacle blocking it. Find the lesson instead of the regret or blame. Find the light instead of the shadow.

Have fun out there telling your stories and I’ll see you next week with the next episode of Love Your Story podcast. We’d sure love it if you’d go to www.loveyourstorypodcast.com and sign up for the weekly inspiration/challenge so we can stay in touch with you.

 

 

 

 

About the author, Lori

Author of four books and over 100 magazine and newspaper articles, Lori found a fascination with the personal narrative during her master's degree research in Folklore at Utah State University. Coming to understand the nuance and power of story, the automatic but unrecognized uses, the cultural curtains that story pulls back for us to peak behind, she let her excitement spill over into her own journey of personal empowerment and the excitement of sharing it all with others.

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