Personal Writing

A little luck and a lot of thanks

Old habits and superstitions are hard to let go of. Think that’s not true? When did you last search for a piece of real wood to knock on three times (or thrice for you, Dr Marry) when talking about needing some good fortune for an upcoming something or other?

That’s what I thought.

When I was in high school, my friends Dawn and Jaci taught me to make a wish every time I came across a clock or timer that was all the same number: 11:11, 5:55, etc. It became a kind of game to try to be vigilant to a clock that was only a minute or two away from being all the same. It felt a bit like cheating if I noticed it was 4:42 and just stared at the clock until it settled on 4:44, and I used to worry that the wish wasn’t quite as potent as if I happened upon a clock happily settled at the wishing time. We used to debate if 10:10 counted. I can’t remember how we ever settled on that one.

I have carried this superstition well into adulthood. Since going to spin class, where the clock ticks through the minutes and seconds, I have been sometimes able to really hit a grand slam in the wishing department because I come across 11 minutes and 11 seconds, which requires extreme and fast luck to notice.

Both the years I was a finalist for a regional fellowship happened in the years I have been spinning, and so my ardent wish, as often as I came across the same numbers, was to receive that prize.

If you read this blog, you know how both those opportunities turned out.

Sometime this summer, I started thinking that perhaps I was “doing it wrong.” Perhaps I was focusing too much on what I wanted and not enough on what I already had.

So I began noting what I was grateful for when the clock gave me these lucky numbers. And in spin class, if I came across my timer and it was at 22:01, for example, I spent the rest of the time leading up to 22:22 mentally listing what I have in my life that fills me with gratitude. I often go through and give thanks for each member of my family, my health, my marriage, my working car, my job, my friends, my good night’s sleep, my warm coat, my pup, my…you get the idea.

It’s disappointing to note that another huge opportunity to receive a significant prize for the work we are doing at my nonprofit came up short during this time of intentional gratitude. I mean, wouldn’t it have been swell if simply shifting from what I want to what I appreciate was what tipped the Universe in my favor, at least where funding was concerned?

Short answer, yes. Yes it would have been swell.

But actually, I didn’t shift from wishing to thanking in the hopes that the Universe would suddenly rain down more gifts on me. I did it because even when I am at rock bottom, even when my self esteem feels like a road grader has run over it, I can still find myriad things for which to be thankful.

I know that there’s a whole movement to keep gratitude journals, and while I like that idea, I also know I’m unlikely to actually start one. But with this little shift, often done multiple times a day, I take a second, or even up to 60 of them, to think about the people, the things, the actions, the states of being and the gifts I already have in my possession and to hold it all in a simple moment of gratitude.

The outcome, for these really big wants in my life, has been the same whether I am taking the time to make a wish or be thankful, but my mindset has shifted. Do I wish I had gotten those grants? Of course. But by thinking about what is already mine, I have found that I am more at peace with the disappointments because they pale in significance when compared to all the bounty I already possess.

The next time you see the same number on whatever device tells you the time, take that moment to be in gratitude for whomever or whatever comes across your mind. It’s a far nicer habit to embrace, and you’ll never be disappointed in the outcome.

And by the way, one of the things I often note with gratitude is you, the readers of my blog. Thanks for being part of my journey to less angst, more contentment and even more abundance. I truly am thankful for you.

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.

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