012: How to Practice Gratitude

What are you grateful for today? It’s one of the most important questions I ask myself every day. I once said that appreciation is the currency we pay the universe with—and I still think that’s true. So at the end of each day, I ask myself: Have I paid what I owe? Have I settled that bill with the universe?

In today’s episode, I talk about gratitude, how I practice it in my own life, I share what I’ve learned from asking my two sons what they’re grateful for every night when I put them to bed, and I leave with you two “gratitude exercises” that’ll help elevate yourself today.


Appreciation is the currency we pay the universe with. Out of all the things that I’ve ever said and have said a lot of things, this is definitely my favorite quote, and it’s because it’s the most meaningful thing I probably have ever said. Appreciation is the currency we pay the universe with.

Every day I ask myself, have I made enough payments today? Have I made my payments? My due payments to the universe today? And appreciation and gratitude are amongst the highest return investments you can make every single day into yourself, into your life, into the world.

Appreciation and gratitude. Those things are not personality traits. It’s not something that falls from the sky that you stumble upon. Appreciation and gratitude are actions and feelings you have to invest in, and you have to create habits around every single day. It is your responsibility to feel gratitude and to feel appreciation and to express gratitude and appreciation into the world. Those are your responsibilities, and the more you do make those payments to the universe in the right currency, the more the universe in whatever form you want to believe in. That metaphor is going to return in kindness, those payments to you. I believe it’s important to create daily habits around this. Um, one thing I do every morning is that I make a list of the things I’m grateful for. What do I appreciate and what am I grateful for today? This is how I start my day.

One thing I do in the evening and a habit I started with my two sons who are five and seven years old, is that the very last thing we do in our. Nightly routine is we go through a couple of steps, but the very last step when they embed, when I turn off the light, when I kissed them and I told them I loved them, is that we say what we’ve been grateful for today. First my youngest child, and then the oldest child, and then I go and we kind of share with each other our appreciation for today. And. The first time we did it over the first couple of times that we did it, my youngest son would ask, and he still does this once in a while he would ask, what is gratitude daddy?

That’s actually a pretty, pretty good question. You know, what is gratitude? The first time, um, that I tried to, you know, to explain this to him. I told him that. You know, gratitude is saying thank you with your heart. I told him, imagine it’s your birthday and there’s lots and lots of gifts at the table and every gift that you unrap you feel happy about, right? You’re excited about. And then I want you to think about who gave you that gift and how much you want to say thank you to them with your heart. And. The same thing applies to life. Every day is a gift, and every day there’s many, many things, gifts. There might not be all toys and there might not all neatly be wrapped. So it’s obvious to all of us that those are gifts, but every day a lot of good things are happening to us. A lot of things that we liked, a lot of things that we loved, a lot of things that were fun, lot of things that were good. And it’s important that we say thank you with our hearts to really be able to fully experience all those gifts. And so every night, my two sons tell me what they’re grateful for, what they were grateful for that day. And every night I share with them what I had been grateful for. And sometimes those two guys, um, this surprised me. They see, they see things that are. You know, very pure and innocent and simple, but pretty powerful and things that I haven’t thought about. Um, and so my oldest child started at some point being thankful for being alive. And the first time he said it was kind of funny because he wasn’t prompted to say it, and I had never shared it with you, but it was still profound. And I think in the way you express it, he didn’t just say, I’m grateful for my life or for being alive. He was like, yeah. I’m great. I think the first time he said it, he said, I’m grateful that I was born. I’m grateful that today I was alive. And the way you say those things, um, points to the way you think about them and the way you can fully experience and feel them. My youngest show was the first of the three of us to say I’m thankful. Instead of just saying, I think both of them from the get go would say things like, I’m grateful for mommy. I’m grateful for daddy. I’m grateful for my brother.

Some point, one of them said, I’m grateful for our family, and my youngest one, they said, I am grateful for everyone who loves us or who, everyone who loves me, and that I felt was pretty profound. Cause there’s one thing to be grateful for the people we love, but thinking about all the people that love us, there’s a slight difference. For some people, this might seem make semantics like same thing. There’s no same difference. There’s the the really, there’s two ways to express the exact same thing, but it isn’t. There are people that love us that we might not be thinking of. When we think about the people we love. Um, and it’s also a different feeling. It’s in kind of an internal going onwards. Here’s the people I feel love in my heart right now for, versus, Oh wow. Realizing all the love people feel in their hearts, that is pointed towards me as a different sensation to that. So. Having these daily habits and practicing gratitude and appreciation is incredibly powerful.

I had a conversation with a friend recently, and he put this in a, in a beautiful way. We, you know, going back and forth on this, and one term that he used was reverse alchemy, right? I’ve talked about a lot about mental alchemy. Uh, I’ve never to to, that is inspired by, by this idea. I love the idea of alchemy, of taking something that is. Worthless or worth very little and turning it to something more valuable. Right? The original idea of Alchemy’s taking these low value, uh, metals and turning them into gold. To me that, that is a beautiful metaphor for life. Um, it mental alchemy that I’ve tried to practice and study and, and, and master throughout my whole life of taking useless or low value thoughts and transforming them into higher value, more useful thoughts. The same thing. A place for emotional alchemy, taking low value emotions and turning them into more valuable emotions. I’ve talked about this before in different contexts, but I love the idea of river verse alchemy. If you think about your life. You go through in many areas of life, we go through the four distinct stages when it comes to the things that are present in our life or part of our life experience. We go through desire wanting something or someone, right? Wanting a Finland experience or wanting somebody or something in our life. So we desire that. That gives that thing a lot of value. Then we go through the second step, which is acquisition. Like we acquire that thing or that experience into our life and the desire and acquisition stage is the stage where we, in our minds and hearts infused in incredible amount of value into these things because they’re not part of our experience yet, and we want them to be part of our experience. But the moment that we’ve passed. The acquisition stage and now we have this thing now with experience, this thing. Now this thing is this person or this whatever circumstance is part of our life. Now we go through the attachment and entitlement stage, which is now we’re getting used to this. We’re getting attached to it, so we make an an extension of our personality, of our. Identity of our life. And we started feeling entitled, this is the new normal. This is part of life. This is just what I have to exist. This is just, you know, table stakes. The bare minimum, right? And so this is the third step. So we went through design acquisition, which is the stage of what we. Infuse these things with a lot of value, and then we go through attachment and entitlement, which is now we have devalued this quite significantly right now. It went from something I really, really wanted to, something. I just have something that just is, it’s just part of life. It’s just whatever. I don’t even pay attention to it anymore. And now the final stage, the fourth stage is potential loss and in loss. I actually now go through suffering through pain, through anger, resentment, frustration. So I went from desiring something to acquiring something, to feeling attachment and entitlement to if I lose it, if I go through loss, experiencing a tremendous amount of pain. And so I went from giving something, a lot of value to then devaluing it because now it’s normal to then actually. Creating an incredible amount of loss when it’s not in my experience anymore. And so he is like, this is like taking things that are part of our experience today, and he’s like more focused on the attachment entitlement stage and devaluing them, right? Taking gold and turning it into silver. That is what the lack of appreciation and gratitude does to your life. You have a room full of gold. And you’re turning all that gold into silver because you are not continuously infusing these things in your life with gratitude and appreciation so that you can really feel their value and you can truly experience seeing thank you with your heart every day for all that you have.

And so I want to leave you with two questions. And a little call to action. Number one, ask yourself this really powerful question. I saw this at some point, I think in a tweet somewhere. Remember a time you dreamed of the life you live today. Again, remember a time you dreamed of the life that you live today. I want you to write this down. And remember a time where you dreamed of the career that you have today, the financial situation you have today, the relationship with the loved one you have today, the experiences. Maybe you recently traveled somewhere. Maybe you have relocated. Maybe you bought a house or home. Maybe you acquired a car. Maybe you. Had an adventure. Maybe you have expanded your family and had children. Maybe you have started a business. Maybe you have hit a certain milestone, a million, 10 million, 100 million. Maybe you have written your first book. Maybe you launched your first podcasts yourself. Whatever it is. Remember a time where you dreamed of doing the things you’re doing today or experiencing. The things that you’re experiencing right now are having the things that you have. And really feel it. Feel the desire you had way before you had this thing. Remember a time you dreamed of the life you live today. This is a very powerful one.

The next question I want to give you and share with you and offer you is the question, what would hurt most if I lost it today? What is something in my life that if I lost it today, it would hurt the most? Write these things down. The answer to this question points to the most valuable things in your life, and then asked yourself and my sing, thank you with my heart for having all these things today. How can I say thank you. What are all the ways that I can express my appreciation and gratitude for not having lost these things today? And that leads me to the action that I wanted to end this with today. Come up with three things that you can do to say thank you. Maybe it’s calling somebody that is important to you and telling them. How much they mean to you, telling them how much you love them, telling them thank you for what they’ve done for you. Even if they’ve heard it before, they will appreciate it. It will feel great for them, and it’s important for you. Maybe it is taking a little action to show appreciation, not with words, but with actions. Maybe somebody, you know, maybe you should take somebody out for dump for, for lunch or dinner or breakfast. Maybe you should write an email to somebody sharing. How much they mean to you with them. Maybe it is if it’s an object, right, and you really appreciate, I don’t know, something that you’ve acquired. It’s an object that you can’t necessarily thank for its existence. Maybe it is today, making the, entering a practice of today. Anytime you interact with it, before you started using it, touching it, interacting it. Looking at it first, fully present, fully in a, in a real mindful state and in your heart and in your mind saying, thank you for being part of my, my experience. Thank you for having living a life where I can have this or look how far I have come. Or look how rich my life is. Anytime you interact with that object, but come up with three. Things, three people that you want to express. Thank you towards with your actions or words today.

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