Gratitude––So what?

PilgrimGratitude is an essential part of daily life. Not because it’s nice, or because someone told you it’s the right thing to do––but because it works.

I learned about the power of gratitude when I had nothing––literally, not figuratively. I was a drug addict living in a decrepit trailer with no money, no sense of self-worth and no meaningful connection to any purpose outside my own subsistence.

And that’s when I learned how to be grateful!

“For what?” you might ask.

It started in the smallest way. I found myself feeling very grateful that I wasn’t living on the street as winter rolled in. I was thankful that I had enough to eat––that wasn’t always the case in those days. I was thankful that I had a job, although I did my level best, it seems, to screw that up too!

When I decided to change my life I had to start with what I had––whatever little that was at the time. Gratitude was my means of identifying what I did have rather than obsessing over what I didn’t have.

It wasn’t much of a start, but it was––a start.

I learned that gratitude is an inventory––and an essential process that helps us fully understand and appreciate what we have right here, and right now. And no matter what your circumstances and conditions right now, and no matter where you’re going in the future––that’s what you have to work with and here is where it all starts.

A few years ago I wrote this post. I don’t really think I’d say it differently today:


If you know my work, you know I’m not the lollipops and puppy dogs guy. My message is…

Life is tough- but you’re tougher.

This is not one of those mushy holiday “attitude of gratitude” platitudes. You need to give thanks- because gratitude is the best way to do a year end inventory.

Success is the result of abundance- of having “enough” in 3 areas of life:

  • Material
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual

Do you have enough?

Do you know?

Have you ever thought about it?

Set aside about 30 minutes. Take out a piece of paper and just divide it for the 3 areas I just listed: material, emotional and material.

Now list everything you’re grateful for in each area…

…and be grateful for ANYTHING you have in each area!

Material: Self-explanatory. How much “stuff” do you have? This is where you list your tangible assets. Put down any money you have, your home, your car- a computer and smartphone.

You may realize you have much more than you thought!

Emotional: This is where you focus on friends and family. This area is still tangible- we’ll get spooky in a minute. List the people who support you emotionally- the folks in your corner. Write down any mentors you might have and professional contacts.

This is also where you should put health, both physical and mental. Add any tangible skills or talents you’ve developed recently.

Spiritual: I promised you we’d get spooky! Well- this is as spooky as it gets…

…What is your purpose? Why do you do what you do? What is your connection to something greater than yourself? What do you believe?

Here you can also express any outstanding characteristics you’ve developed that are difficult to measure and quantify such as courage, confidence and a sense of authentic self-worth.

Once you get your list together- your “inventory” if you will, just take a few minutes and just be grateful.

Whatever you’ve got on this list, this is what you have to work with right here and right now. Don’t compare your list to anyone else’s- it doesn’t matter. There will always be people you perceive as better or worse off than you.

Everything on your list is something to be thankful for.

Focusing on gratitude helps you appreciate what you have instead of obsessing over what you don’t.

Just be grateful…

Here’s an old video- but I still preach the same message today…

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