I recently read a moving and insightful book called 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life by John Kralik. It’s a true story of a man who completely turned his life around when he decided to write a thank you note every day for one year. This memoir is an example of how powerful gratitude can be.
The story that I remember most from the book, though, was one that Kralik tells in the beginning. He describes how as a young boy his grandfather gave him a silver dollar, telling him that if he received a thank you note, he would send another one. As long as Kralik sent him a thank you note, the silver dollars would keep coming. In this way, his grandfather taught him a life lesson in etiquette, while simultaneously illustrating how gratitude generates more abundance.
As the story goes, Kralik did indeed send his grandfather a thank you note, and true to his grandfather’s word, a shiny new silver dollar came back to him in the mail. Once again he wrote a thank you note, and in return another silver dollar. By the third silver dollar, however, Kralik had lost enthusiasm for the exchange, and did not send another thank you note, and thus the flow of silver dollars stopped.
My husband and I don’t give an allowance to our children, so one day my son Julian came to me asking if he could earn some money. “Sure,” I told him, and he presented a list of activities and how much each was worth. Getting out of bed when called in the morning and getting dressed was worth 25 cents. Making a bottle of seltzer was worth 10 cents. Doing a complete load of laundry, including folding and putting it away was worth $1, etc.
For two weeks, Julian enthusiastically completed tasks, and as he did I dropped quarters in to a cup for him. I noticed, however, that I was the one reminding him that if he did certain things he would get the money, and I soon tired of that game. One day I said to him, “When you complete a task, you let me know, and I’ll put the money in the cup.” I figured if he really wanted the money, he would tell me, plus, I wanted him to be the one taking the initiative.
For a while, Julian accumulated a fair amount of money in his cup, and got to spend some of it. However, once I told him that he was responsible for letting me know he had earned money, the rate at which he earned it dropped significantly. In fact, for the past month, he hasn’t asked me for money at all. He still makes seltzer, he still gets out of bed and gets dressed in the morning, and does a host of other items that we decided on — but he doesn’t collect on them.
The similarity between these two stories is that in both cases, had the child simply taken the initiative to do the prescribed activity as directed, they would have received more money easily and abundantly. It caused me to think about how often I “leave money on the table.” For instance, I have a check for $100 sitting on my desk right now that I just haven’t taken to the bank. I’ve written in previous blogs about various gift certificates that end up buried in piles on my desk. I even occasionally delay in submitting invoices for work I’ve done. People actively owe me money, but I don’t collect on it, just like Julian and his chore money.
If inadequate cash flow is a frequent theme in your life, take a look at how well you are RECEIVING the money that is already out there in the universe waiting to come your way. While there is a common belief that receiving is easy, many of us could use practice in this area. Receiving is an action that requires conscious attention. You can practice receiving by being gracious when people give things to you – compliments, gifts, a seat on the subway, and of course, money.
I have a personal practice whereby any time anyone offers me money, I take it. I want to tell the universe that I want money, and that I am ready to gratefully receive it. That way, like the author’s grandfather, it will send me more.