Dating Myself: The Power of Gratitude

04/06/2017 07:24 pm ET Updated Jul 18, 2017
photo: Raylene Lowe

I feel like I just awoke from many years in hibernation.

On paper, there’s no reason that I should seemingly, all of the sudden, be feeling full of hope and excitement for the future. I am not working at my dream job, in fact, I have been serving tables and bartending for 11 years, I am in more debt than ever before, and I struggle to pay my bills every month. So, on paper, yeaaah, my outlook should be pretty shitty right about now.

But alas. I have never been happier. Everything changed in one day, one night really, about a month ago.

I was on a solo date with myself, as I have been known to do. “We” went to my favorite spot, Sweetgreen, for the best salad in New York City. Next stop: Barnes & Noble, Union Square. You know Me and Me -- we are always doing something thrilling and exciting for Date Night...like, going to a bookstore.

After watching Misty Copeland give a talk about her new book on the 4th floor, I went downstairs to look through her book, not buy her book, just peruse it (note the financial situation stated above).

As I was searching for the extraordinary cover of Misty’s book, another cover caught my eye: Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. I had listened to her podcast, I had not quite gotten a chance to read the book.

As I picked it up, another book caught my eye, The Secret 10th Anniversary Edition. Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret was a book about the Law of Attraction that I had read cover to cover, over and over, many years back. Unfortunately, as I have been riding the Struggle Bus these last few years, I fell off the practice of the Law of Attraction.

As I was flipping through The Secret’s 10th Anniversary Edition, another book on the table caught my eye, it had similar graphic design and was also written by Rhonda Byrne, called The Power. As I reached my hand across the table, the hand of a woman standing near me collided with mine and at that exact moment, another book fell from a shelf above and onto my hand, it was The Magic. Also written by Rhonda Byrne.

I knew in that moment that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. It’s a fleeting feeling that only comes but once in a while. But when it does, I pay attention.

I took The Magic to the 3rd floor, grabbed a drink, and sat down in the cafe. I read the first 57 pages without stopping. I could feel my life changing with every turn of the page. The concept was simple: being genuinely grateful for all of the blessings in your life will multiply them.

Now, I am no stranger to gratitude. This past Thanksgiving, while visiting my parents, I unearthed my Gratitude Journal from 8th Grade. On the cover page it says, “Inspired by my friend Oprah Winfrey.” Here are some highlights:

-I hit the ball hard in gym class

-white cheese pizza

-my deodorant works well

-I shaved my legs

-I got to watch Murphy Brown

-I got to catch up on Oprah tapes (good ol’ VHS)

-white cheese pizza

-TGIF Thank Godness it’s Friday (that was not a typo)

I think you get the gist, obviously I was a VERY cool kid.

That journal however, was not transformative, as you might have imagined. Turns out listing 5 things at the end of the day like pizza, which was noted 6 times in one month, didn’t alter the way that I participated in my life at 14 years old.

Evidence of what a nerd Lauren was in 1998.
Evidence of what a nerd Lauren was in 1998.

Writing down 10 blessings in my life -- as simple as clean running water or as huge as sharing my life with my best friend, and then why I’m thankful for them --- THAT has truly changed my life.

Shifting the focus to my health and well-being, the love of family and friends, the safety of my home and my country, and even my toothbrush and toothpaste, has transformed what I felt I lacked, into abundance, into more than enough.

I wake up every morning saying thank you and go to bed every night thinking of the joyful moments of the day. Like a crazy person, I lay in bed smiling, feeling the joy and happiness of my favorite moment from the day. It definitely beats worrying. My job will change. My financial situation will change. But I am certainly not going to wait to be happy until they do.

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