Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Transformitive Power of Gratitude

If you google “Prosperity Coach,” I’m at or near the top of the first page. Damn, I must be really good, right!? But I didn’t become a Prosperity Coach/Financial Healer because I have always been (or am even now) brilliant with money and overflowing with oodles of it.

True confessions: I have my “tight” months. I have consumer debt (again.) Once a real estate investor with four properties, I recently had to sell one on a “short sale” and even lost a house to foreclosure in the recent market crash.

Once “riding high,” with a healthy net worth and a sense of financial indestructibility (not unlike a teenager who doesn’t believe that their luck will ever change), my luck did indeed change – dramatically. Perhaps God and the angels were saying, “We hear you want to help people who are financially stressed experience the reality of abundance… Are you SURE? Because we have a training program for that… but it might not be what you think!”

Sure enough, ten years after my divorce, when I thought I had this “money thing” all figured out, everything that could happen, did.

My boyfriend changed his mind about living with me… right after I bought a house I couldn’t afford by myself. The economy crashed as I launched my business, which meant my assets (mostly in real estate) vanished. My daughter badly fractured her foot the same summer my father almost died. Then came my own health challenges… viruses, pneumonia, colitis, infections, and anemia. Some days, I didn’t even have the energy to get out of bed. (As a self-employed breadwinner, this was not a recipe for prosperity….)

But somehow, in the middle of it all, a profound peace came upon me. I had found my center in the eye of the storm, and I knew that I would be - that I was – “okay.” I stopped responding to outside indicators as if could dictate my worth and happiness, and I discovered an inner abundance that I had not even realized was there.

I went back to the basics: prayer, meditation, and gratitude journaling. I focused on what I wanted, and took steps towards it, however small. I made self-care a top priority, and I learned to receive as well as give.

About the same time, a friend was going through her own personal holocaust in a California prison. In a nightmarish chain of events, her baby had passed away, and after telling the paramedics she had given him small doses of antihistamines to relieve his congestion, she was charged with first-degree murder and held in custody on one million dollars bail.

Although the first-degree murder charges didn’t stick, her life was a living hell for two years. Still mourning the loss of her son, she proceeded to lose her freedom, her home, her reputation, her belongings (liquidated for legal costs), custody of her daughter, and eventually, her marriage.

During this time, we talked as regularly as possible by phone. She was always glad to connect to somebody “on the outside,” but I felt at a total loss of words. I was a newly certified “life coach,” but it didn’t seem like all the coaching in the world could help.

And yet, one day, I found myself challenging her to look around and find something (maybe just one little thing?) to be grateful for. Yes, her challenges were greater than I could even imagine, but still… I hoped - almost ashamed at myself for suggesting it, fearing I might be wrong - there must be a hint of sunshine somewhere.

In the following weeks and months, letters from prison started arriving with gratitude lists. She was grateful when she could afford a little Lipton tea to enjoy in her cell. She was grateful when the light bulbs that were never turned off dimmed at night. She was grateful for envelopes, stamps, and tiny “golf pencils” to write with. She was grateful for her one small blanket. And when a nighttime fire alarm brought her to the yard, and she saw stars for the first time in many months, she called me with tears of gratitude for the beauty of the night sky.

I recently came across one of her old letters, and it reminded me of the necessity of always recognizing “the good stuff,” yes, during the hard times, but at all times. In a culture addicted to complaints and always seeking “more, more, MORE,” it is a transformative action to habitually declare the good we are experiencing each and every day.

Today, I am grateful for a new home that meets my needs perfectly. I am grateful for my daughter. I am grateful for the taste of yoghurt, text messages from my new boyfriend, a small summer electric bill, and a client’s breakthrough. I’m grateful that my friend is no longer in prison, but is on a sailboat adventure in the Pacific Ocean right now. And most of all, I’m grateful for gratitude, that miraculous little mind-shift that has the power to change absolutely everything.

Kate Phillips of Total Wealth Coaching helps people go from frustrated, fearful, and freaked out about money (feel free to add your own “F word” as it applies to money) to wealthy, worthy and wise. You can find her at

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