By Oprah Winfrey
I live in the space of thankfulness - and I have been rewarded a
million times over for it. I started out giving thanks for small things,
and the more thankful I became, the more my bounty increased.
That's because what you focus on expands, and when you focus on the
goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships,
even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what
happened in my life.
"Say thank you!" Those words from my friend and mentor Maya Angelou
turned my life around. One day about ten years ago, I was sitting in my
bathroom with the door closed and the toilet lid down, booing and ahooing
on the phone so uncontrollably that I was incoherent.
"Stop it! Stop it right now and say thank you!" Maya chided. "But
You don't understand," I sobbed.
To this day, I can't remember what it was that had me so far gone,
which only proves the point Maya was trying to make. "I do understand," she
told me. "I want to hear you say it now. Out loud.
'Thank you.'" Tentatively, I repeated it:
"Thank you - but what am I saying thank you for?"
"You're saying thank you," Maya said, "because your faith is so
strong that you don't doubt that whatever the problem, you'll get through
it. You're saying thank you because you know that even in the eye of the
storm, God has put a rainbow in the clouds.
You're saying thank you because you know there's no problem created
that can compare to the Creator of all things. Say thank you!"
So I did - and still do. Only now I do it every day. I kept a
Gratitude journal, as Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests in Simple Abundance,
listing at least five things that I'm grateful for. My list includes small
pleasures: the feel of Kentucky bluegrass under my feet (like damp silk); a
walk in the woods with all nine of my dogs and my cocker spaniel Sophie
trying to keep up; cooking fried green tomatoes with Stedman and eating
them while they're hot; reading a good book and knowing another awaits.
My thank-you list also includes things too important to take for
granted: an "okay" mammogram, friends who love me, 25 years at the same job
(and loving it more than the first day I started), a chance to share my
vision for a better life, staying centered, having financial security.
I won't kid you, having money for all the things I want is a
blessing. But as I look back over my journals, which I've kept since I was
15 years old, 99 per cent of what brought me real joy had nothing to do
with money (It had a lot to do with food, however.)
It's not easy being grateful all the time. But it's when you feel
least thankful that you are most in need of what gratitude can give you:
PERSPECTIVE. Just knowing you have that daily list to complete
allows you to look at your day differently, with an awareness of every
sweet gesture and kind thought passed your way. When you learn to say thank
you, you see the world anew. And as Meister Eckhart so eloquently stated:
"If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is 'Thank you
God,' that would suffice."