Gratitude has completely transformed my life. There was a traditional blessing often recited as I was growing up that said, “For what we have and what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly grateful.” Yet I never understood what it meant to be truly grateful. I confused gratitude with a sense of obligation—something I owed to someone who had done me a favor. Like Jonathon Edwards, I was a sinner in the hands of an angry God. There was always an underlying sense that things could be much worse, and I should thank God that they are not. In my heart I experienced more resentment than gratitude.

My miracle of transformation came quite unexpectedly through the birth of my daughter. As I nurtured my daughter, I began to experience true feelings of gratitude. Holding her, rocking her and loving her helped me to learn to love myself. My relationship with God changed dramatically. I began to understand and appreciate the awesome creative power that exists throughout the Universe—not just the sudden creation of the world as we know it thousands of years ago or its gradual creation over millions of years, but ongoing, timeless creation.

I am raising my daughter in an abundant world, where each of us has everything she needs and enough to share with others. In our world, masculine and feminine are valued equally and embraced fully as complementary parts of humanity. Children are acknowledged, cherished and encouraged to think for themselves. Love and kindness have replaced fear and manipulation. Cooperation replaces competition. Life is good; it’s all good.

I hear people talk fearfully about economic recession. Yet when I look around me, I see how blessed I am to have everything I need in this moment and enough to share with others. There’s a wonderful parable called Stone Soup that shows how sharing creates prosperity. You know the story.

A tired and hungry traveler finds himself in a village where everyone sadly claims there is no food to share. The traveler borrows an empty pot, builds a fire, and starts boiling some water. He removes a large stone from his pocket. He holds it up to the sunlight as if to inspect it, and then brings it to his nose, inhaling deeply. He carefully drops the stone into the boiling water and begins to stir. He continues stirring, smelling and tasting as if he were preparing the most mouth-watering meal.

Soon the villagers’ curiosity gets the better of them. When they ask what he is doing, he tells them that he can make the most wonderful soup from a stone…which would be even better if only he had a little of this or a touch of that for flavor. As the villagers begin to share individual, small portions of ingredients, the stone soup turns into a delicious and nourishing meal for everyone.

The traveler began with what he had—a little stone and a lot of imagination. Gratitude allows us to appreciate what we have and embrace all that is within our reach, even if it doesn’t seem like much to begin with. Genuine gratitude, the kind that arises out of love, produces freedom, joy, and prosperity.

How do you define prosperity? Too often we equate prosperity with money and wonder if it is such a good thing after all. Many of us consider money to be a “necessary evil.” Indeed, the accumulation of wealth can arise out of a fear of not having our needs met. Prosperity does not accumulate; it flows. It does not lay up treasures on earth believing that there’s not enough to go around or that the only way to get anything is to take it from someone else.

What if, instead of viewing the world as a zero sum proposition where we must all compete for limited, external resources, we looked within ourselves for prosperity? Would we find the Kingdom of God? Would we find the talents and energy to create abundance in this world? I believe we would. The potential for prosperity lies within each of us and begins with gratitude—a sincere appreciation for the gift of Life.

Author's Bio: 

A former high school teacher, experienced trial attorney and child advocate, Laurie Gray is the founder of Socratic Parenting LLC and the co-creator of Token of Change™. In addition to her writing, speaking and consulting, Laurie works as an adjunct professor of criminal sciences at Indiana Tech and as a bilingual child forensic interviewer at the Dr. Bill Lewis Center for Children in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Laurie is the author of A Simple Guide to Socratic Parenting (Luminis Books/2014). For more information, please visit