My son Anthony called me, excited about a new best-seller he was reading about attracting prosperity into our lives.
One of the book’s innovative concepts hit me like a resounding gong going off—being grateful for good things that have yet to happen, in advance.
We’ve all heard that visualizing any situation with the best possible future outcome can work wonders. Athletes utilize this theory when they purposefully and meditatively visualize a race beforehand and then go on to achieve victory. But this revolutionary concept takes a huge leap forward by suggesting that we don’t simply visualize success, but feel genuinely grateful for a successful outcome—before it happens!
The Baha’i teachings refer directly to this kind of “preemptive gratitude:”
So my son Anthony decided to put the book’s theory into action in a small way, and later told me this story. He put forth the intention that he would find a parking place close to his apartment when he got home from work. This would be a feat in itself, because he lives just blocks from the beach and parking spots are rare commodities. Nevertheless, Anthony resolved not only to find a spot, but determined on his drive home that he would be thankful in the advance for the parking spot he had yet to find. As he got closer to home he smiled and experienced a warm feeling of gratitude for whatever the future held. Finally he reached his neighborhood. He drove past his apartment without finding a parking place.
“I thought, no worries,” Anthony told me, “I’ll drive around again. My spot is going to open up. So I rounded the corner. Just then I saw red tail lights turn on. There it was! A car starting to pull out. But then, in a flash, a blue car raced in front of me from another lane. The blue car stopped directly behind the parked car that was about to pull out.”
“Oh no!” I said. “They got your spot!” But Anthony continued, “The story doesn’t end there, Mom.”
Anthony said, “I wasn’t concerned. Intuitively I knew that this was where I was supposed to park, so I didn’t drive on. I waited, and as I waited I saw the parked car suddenly turn their brake lights off. They appeared to have changed their mind and decided to stay. Seeing this, the blue car waiting behind them gave up and left.”
“So did you leave too?” I asked. To my surprise he responded, “No. I knew this was my spot so I waited a few seconds directly behind the parked car. Then I looked, and the parked car’s brake lights lit up once again. They pulled out and the spot was mine!”
I took a big gasp, and then we both laughed together. It was an amazing little demonstration and confirmation of preemptive gratitude in action. This small example made me realize that my job is to be receptive to whatever the future holds, and to anticipate the best possible outcomes. To be grateful in advance means being optimistic, and appreciating whatever God’s will ordains. Things might not always transpire exactly the way we might have hoped, but we should never lose faith, because unseen circumstances are in the works, ultimately for our benefit. No matter what the outcome, God’s will is best for everyone, just as the Baha’i teachings advise:
I believe that we attract more good things when we appreciate what we already have. When we take that a step further and are grateful for things that don’t yet exist—those positive outcomes and futures—we increase the attraction of even more good into our lives.
On the other hand, think about it from this perspective: if we are not thankful for the blessings God has already given us, why should He give us more? If you lavish your child with gifts and he is not grateful for what he has, does it make you want to give him more gifts?
Do you realize how much you should thank God for His blessings? If you should thank Him a thousand times with each breath, it would not be sufficient. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 187.
I’m convinced: to awaken each day being grateful, not only for what already exists but for another wonderful day of life ahead yet to happen, puts us in sync with a higher frequency and attracts blessings like a magnet.
So before you go to the market, to your workplace or a friend’s home, picture yourself speaking with loving, happy people and be grateful in advance for the wonderful interactions you are about to experience. It certainly won’t hurt, and it may attract and invite a delightful new set of circumstances that might not have occurred otherwise. The Baha’i writings say that we have countless days ahead of us that will bring us unlimited joy—why not enjoy the marvelous feeling of being grateful for them now?
Days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their sustaining grace. To each and every one of them you will, no doubt, attain. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 329.