Last week I went to visit my lovely publisher, Dara, to drop off a Gratitude Jar for her office. Our conversation went something like this:
"This is beautiful!" Dara said after taking the jar out of its packaging and placing it on her desk, "So what do I do with it?"
"Um, you read the book right?" The book in question is The Gratitude Jar: A Simple Guide to Creating Miracles which I published through Wise Ink Creative Publishing - of which Dara is the boss of.
"Yes, but you know I'm a Virgo so I need details. You need to tell me exactly how to use this jar, Josie."
PS: I love Virgos.
They're my complete opposite as a charge-in-with-my-guns-blazing Leo who worries about details after the fact.
Frankly, I could stand to be a little more Virgo.
But it made me realize I should be prepared for questions from the Daras of the world about the exact mechanics of using a gratitude jar when I'm out promoting my book.
Dara went on to ask tons of other questions, of which I tried to answer the best I could.
Most of my answers consisted of, "It doesn't really matter" and, "Just do it and see what happens".
When I left her office, I felt like I hadn't done a proper job motivating her as the author of an inspirational book about gratitude should.
So I came up with an analogy, since it's obvious giving out really specific details of how to do things is obviously not one of my strengths.
Here it is.
Flying to Paradise: A Simple Parable About the Power of Gratitude
Imagine you just won free tickets to tropical paradise. You're so excited and can't wait to get to the airport to start your adventure.
When you arrive to claim your tickets, the woman behind the counter informs you one of the perks of your winning tickets is you get to choose whatever plane you wish to take you there.
The woman says, "All planes at this airport lead to the same destination, just choose the plane you feel most comfortable riding on."
Being someone who likes to analyze every possible situation, you start obsessing over which plane to take:
The luxury private jet? Maybe the economy 747? How about the fun little cargo plane?
You start asking the woman behind the counter all sorts of questions:
What's the fuel economy of each plane? Is there in-flight entertainment? What kind of engines do they have? How many seats are there?
The woman smiles and answers all your questions the same way:
"All our planes are fully equipped with the same safety and comfort features. Just choose one you like so you can start your journey."
You don't find this answer helpful because you want to know exactly which plane to take. Which plane is the best.
Meanwhile, you've failed to notice you've now spent two hours at the flight counter trying to figure out which plane to take, instead of actually getting on the plane.
The woman behind the counter points at the clock on the wall behind her, "Excuse me miss, but you need get on a plane soon. Before they all leave."
Just take the leap, and start flying.
You finally realize spending all your time analyzing the details of each plane has taken you from your real purpose for being at the airport - getting to tropical paradise. Now you understand it doesn't matter which plane you choose, as long as you get on a plane, any plane, and start flying.
The lesson here is that it doesn't matter how you practice gratitude - jars, journals, meditations - all of them lead to the same place.
All that matters is you start a gratitude practice, any practice, right now, so you can get going on the journey towards a more blissful life.
One of the reasons I included several gratitude practices in my book (even though using a gratitude jar is my personal favorite) is because I know the incredible things that happen as a result of spending time each day in gratitude, regardless of the method you select.
Your focus determines your reality so if you focus on all the wonderful things in your life and give gratitude for them, more wonderful things come to you.
Likewise, if you focus on how irritated you are about everything, more irritating situations will be drawn to you.
Like attracts like.
Once you've been practicing gratitude consistently and get into the space of feeling really good and attracting really good situations, well, that's when miracles start happening:
Amazing job opportunities come after long stretches of employment...
After you'd all but given up on love, you get engaged to someone who's your perfect match...
Sobriety happens after years of struggling with addiction...
Estranged relationships with family members mend easily...
I've seen these miracles firsthand not only in my life, but in the lives of others who've been practicing gratitude regularly.
Gratitude shifts your brain at such a deep level that your old way of living just doesn't work any more and a whole new world opens up to you.
Gratitude is like a miracle vitamin that can solve all your ills. It doesn't matter which gratitude vitamin you take, as long as you take one every single day.
The point is, don't worry about the specific details of your practice - just know the simple act of expressing gratitude in any way is powerful, and will bring powerful changes into your life.
Pick a gratitude practice, any practice, and watch what happens. Don't worry about whether you're doing it right or what the outcome will be.
Just start flying.