Yesterday morning I woke up to a bad dream. It didn’t start off to be a bad dream. In fact, in the beginning of the dream there were people of all ages gathered together in a large barn-like structure for a festival. There were games and food and everyone was laughing, happy, and joyful.
Then came the troll. He was huge and violent, angry and dangerous. He smashed through the games. He threatened to hurt people unless they paid him tribute. Suddenly the fun stopped, the joy stopped, the laughter stopped. Everyone was afraid. Everyone was worried.
The tributes were paid, but the troll didn’t leave. Instead, he climbed up into the rafters to see what else he could get. People became silent. They were too afraid of drawing his attention to move. They didn’t tell jokes anymore. They didn’t play games anymore. They were so worried about the troll in the rafters that they forgot how to enjoy themselves.
And no matter how much they paid the troll, he wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more. He demanded more. And he enjoyed the fear, the terror, the anxiety, and the worry he caused. It made him feel powerful and important.
I took this dream up in prayer. I knew it was God talking to me. He was trying to let me know that I’d let something into my head and it was robbing me of my joy, of my fun, of my laughter. It was getting in the way of my happiness and it was causing me to scramble to supply its inexhaustible needs.
It didn’t take long to see the answer. The troll in this dream was ingratitude. It was attracted by the sounds of laughter, happiness, and joy. It hated those things. So it infected me with the feeling of inadequacy by always demanding more of me. More, more, more, to satisfy a never-ending hunger. It left me anxious, worried, afraid, and fearful of bad things to come.
But I didn’t have to allow Ingratitude to take up residence in my head or my heart. I could fight back. I could focus myself on the things that really mattered in my life and I could count the blessings, the things that were going well, the success that I did have. I could appreciate the struggles, the chaos, the storms that bring the rain that leads to new life.
The day was busy. Productive. But by 4:15 pm I didn’t have any more money than I had at the beginning of the day. And I have 10 days to pay the rent and the utilities. 25 days to figure out travel money and put together the things I need to ensure a safe trip.
It would have been easy to get caught up in what I didn’t have. But then a phone call came from a friend. His name is Chris Palmore. I met him the day after my manic meltdown. He is the founder of GratitudeSpace.com.
He’s an amazing man who takes giant leaps of faith that leave me feeling breathless. He has managed to build in just two years a platform that gives encouragement and inspiration to more than 8,000 people a day. He has recruited and made friends with celebrities all over the United States to help him in his mission.
Chris is organizing an event called #GratitudeNYC that starts in just two days. I have been doing my small part to help him. He called because he needed to talk. He wanted to ask Justin Bieber to be part of the event. He planned a trip all the way out east to where he knew Justin was supposed to be just to meet him. And then it didn’t happen.
After all the hard work, after all the miles traveled, after all the preparation, he missed his goal. And suddenly he forgot about all the good work he’d been doing, about all the good things he’d accomplished, about all the good things that were still to come and his world became consumed with what didn’t happen.
I knew exactly what that felt like. I’d been through it just a few days earlier. And I was grateful to be able to understand because I knew from experience what he was feeling. I was grateful to be able to help him get through it. I was grateful to pass on to him the gift I’d received at my moment of disappointment and discouragement.
Our conversation was just a few minutes long, just long enough to remind him of his goal of spreading gratitude to a world that’s forgotten its meaning. Long enough to encourage him to focus on the bigger picture, and to see this as just one more obstacle in the path toward his real goal. Meeting Justin Bieber is still a dream of his. And it will happen, just not that day.
We all get disappointed. We all get discouraged. We all let that discouragement lead us to forget our real mission and why the work we do matters. That’s when ingratitude bursts into our life and makes its presence known. That’s when it starts gobbling up our happiness and stealing our joy. That’s when it roosts in our head and starts making us worried, fearful, and anxious.
And helping Chris, I was reminded of this. I was reminded that the most important things in life can’t be measured in dollars and cents. They aren’t made of gold and silver, but of friendship, sharing with others, and knowing that you have helped someone else improve their lives for that day. That is the mission that makes it all worth it.
Gratitude restored my hope that what I am doing is not for nothing. And that hope restored my happiness. This won’t be the end of that battle. Ingratitude is there, lurking in the shadows, waiting for its opportunity to seize my happiness and squish my joy. But for that moment, I could celebrate my victories and find happiness in the progress I’ve made toward accomplishing my mission.
Chris and another friend of mine, Bobby, are partnering together to bring more gratitude to the world. Bobby proposed that we launch a crowdfunding campaign to help defray all the expenses involved in running GratitudeSpace and for the upcoming event. He knew about my own experience running a crowdfunding campaign and asked me to help.
This morning, I woke up thinking about how miserable my battle with depression makes me feel. How lifeless and pointless it makes everything I do seem. It's kind of like being a zombie. And that's when the idea hit me for the video I needed to create in order to help launch the crowdfunding campaign.
Today, Team Gratitude launched the GratitudeSpace Zombie CureTour to help stomp out ingratitude by encouraging people to practice radical acts of gratitude each and every day. We’re crowdfunding the mission to spread Gratitude one city at a time and we’d love your support.
Visit the crowdfunding page and learn more about our goals and our mission and how you can help out. I look forward to helping you spread more gratitude in your life and in the lives of others.
Thank you for reading this. Thank you for sharing it. Thank you for being part of my life. And thank you for every prayer you’ve ever given on my behalf. I am grateful to have you, even if I'm not always good at showing it.