think good thoughts

Harness the Power of Gratitude

[dc]L[/dc]ast week, my wife, Melissa and I organized a donation collection with the intention of filling a 16-foot rental truck and driving the much-needed supplies to New York and New Jersey to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. After seeing the devastation on TV, we felt called to do more than the text donation we had sent.

Although the time between the idea and the execution of our mission was only 5 days or so, I faced several fearful moments, doubting whether we could make it happen; if we’d bitten off more than we could chew. We had already put it out on Facebook and Twitter, so turning back no longer felt like an option. We had to put our faith in front of our fear and do our best to surrender to the outcome.

think good thoughtsOur resolve was challenged in lots of ways by family and friends asking if we’d thought this through, if we knew there was a severe gas shortage down there, were we sure we needed such a big truck, what if we found ourselves — two women with a truck (hopefully) full of badly needed items — in a dangerous neighborhood; by the rental truck companies denying our request for a donated truck or a discount on the rental cost; by the local plaza not allowing us to hold the collection in their parking lot. I allowed all of this to make me doubt myself and our mission.

One of the many things I’m blessed with in my marriage is my and Melissa’s abilities to hold each other up when we’re shaky. During this venture, we had to tag team quite a bit! We helped each other realize that others’ fears were both a reflection of our own, and also projection of their own limitations onto us. We decided to trust in ourselves, in each other, and in humankind that this would happen just as it should. We were grateful to be able to even give this a shot.

On Tuesday, we announced the collection times and location (we chose a different plaza and opted for the “ask for forgiveness, not permission” approach), and on Thursday — just two days later — our truck was jam-packed within a three-hour window. This beautiful community of ours rallied in such a way that it blew our minds. Despite it being a cold and rainy night, people arrived with donations the entire time. Some gave a single coat while others came with a carload, and each and every item was equally appreciated.

Folks we had never met hugged us and cried in thanks because they grew up in the devastated area or have family who live there now. We squeezed them back in thanks to them for their donations and their spirit. Without all of them, we would’ve had an empty truck! People offered us money for gas, tolls, our meals. The feeling of gratitude overwhelmed us all — their gratitude for us and our gratitude for them. This power of coming together to help those in need superseded any fears we may have had.

You can invoke the power of gratitude into your life every single day. By learning to operate from this place, you open up a world of possibilities for your health, wealth, success, and happiness, as well as for those around you. Give these three ideas a go to welcome gratitude into your life as a regular practice:

  1. Gratitude journal. Choose a favorite small notebook or journal where you can write down what you’re grateful for from your day, every day. Try for a minimum of three items. Consider things like nature, friends, family, heat, cozy pjs, food, electricity, pets, technology, quiet time, yoga, etc. It can be anything and everything from the smallest moment in your day to a huge, life-changing experience. The power of this practice comes from consistency. Get into a routine of doing this each and every night before you go to bed. I keep my gratitude journal right in my nightstand with a pen so I can easily grab it. By practicing this exercise regularly, you begin to operate in your day-to-day life from a place of gratitude and you begin to see things in new and different ways. By focusing on those things that you’re thankful for, you start noticing more and more blessings. Isn’t that a beautiful way to live?
  2. Squash frustration with thanks. When you find yourself annoyed or aggravated, look for something in that moment for which to be thankful. For example, let’s say you go to do a load of laundry and you discover that your washing machine has crapped out. Frustrating, for sure. Give yourself that moment of anger, and then shift to something like, “I’m grateful I even have clothes which need cleaning.” Or you get a call that you didn’t get the job you had interviewed for. Try “I’m thankful to have had the opportunity.” I’m not saying this is always easy, but what’s really cool is it gets easier with practice. You begin to truly trust that everything happens in divine order and that the Universe is always dreaming a bigger dream for you than you can for yourself. It becomes easier to see the forest instead of just the trees.
  3. Give what you need. A super impactful way to operate from a place of gratitude is to give to others what you feel you need most. Is money feeling particularly tight right now? Donate $5 to a cause you feel passionate about. Do you wish you were in a loving relationship and are feeling alone in the perceived world of coupledom? Pick up the phone and reach out to someone who could really use some company, such as a resident in a nursing home who never gets visitors. Does your business feel stalled? Offer a resource or a suggestion to a fellow entrepreneur. Doing these acts is like a loving one-two punch. You get to feel the power of giving while also stirring the pot of positivity in your own life, which welcomes in gifts and opportunities.

Here in the United States, we’re celebrating Thanksgiving this week. Is there a better time to begin your gratitude practice or to kick it up a notch? Please share your thoughts on gratitude in the comments section below and let’s harness this collective power!

Oh, our trip to New York was a big success! We showed up to one of Occupy Sandy’s distribution centers with a huge truck full of their requested supplies, and they were blown away by our community’s generosity. You may recognize the “Occupy” name from their past protests with Occupy Wall Street. They’ve now turned their focus to mutual aid (they prefer that term over “charity”) and have successfully gotten supplies, meals, and medication to those people who have yet to be reached by FEMA or the Red Cross. We chose to partner with them because we loved the idea of no red tape and no bureaucracy that could stop these people from getting what they need to survive. We brought it to St. Luke’s and St. Matthew’s church in Brooklyn, and they immediately sorted it and got it into cars and trucks to be brought to the hardest hit areas. Here’s to the power of the people!

14 replies
  1. Cynthia DaCosta
    Cynthia DaCosta says:

    Wow, Kerri!! I loved your story!!! I am so impressed and grateful to you and Melissa for your efforts to help victims of the hurricane. What a huge leap of faith and how inspiring to hear how it turned out. Thank you both!!!!!

  2. Debbie
    Debbie says:

    You guys are such an inspiration. I loved this piece and found the steps on gratitude very helpful. I also loved the ‘tag team’ part – how you and Melissa are able to hold each other up. So nice to read. Thank you for sharing it. X

  3. Cyndy
    Cyndy says:

    Wow, Kerri – I saw your tweet about this, but now realize the enormous task you two took on yourselves to do for others. THANK YOU – blessings abound. Sometimes they’re hard to recognize, often we must make them ourselves, but – bottom line – blessings abound and are boundless. Grateful-

  4. Erica Holthausen
    Erica Holthausen says:

    Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Okay, the food is certainly a part of it! But I love coming together over a wonderful meal to express our gratitude. And while I have always tried to remember to be grateful and to say thank you, I haven’t been terribly intentional about it and I plan to change that fact by keeping a gratitude journal and setting aside some time each month to write letters to people who have made a difference in my life.

  5. Annmarie
    Annmarie says:

    I loved this one Kerri. Very inspired by you and Melissa’s crazy idea and loved that you followed through despite the obstacles. Also loved the reflection that people are reflecting your own fears back to you. Felt the love all the way here in New Zealand.

  6. Kate
    Kate says:

    Loved the article, having that special someone by your side to tackle such a big project can really bring you closer together.

    I am grateful for my husband and my dog.


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