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Tomorrow on Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States.  It is one of my favorite holidays because the focus is on what we have to be grateful for.

Although there is so much unrest in the world, and many people around the world still go to bed hungry, it is important for us to take note of what we are grateful for.  I believe that doing this has many benefits including getting in touch with our desire to give back and contribute.  

I wanted to give you a gift that made a huge difference in my life.   When I participated in a course that we offer called the Self Actualization Course I learned a gratitude practice that was so powerful it rocked me to my core.

It’s called Mental Subtraction.  Here’s the instructions.  

Directions: Write about how your life would have been different if a positive event in your life had never happened.

Here’s how I did the exercise recently.

Morty asked me out three times and I said no.  He then left a message on my answering machine that said “I know you don’t want to go out with me Saturday night, but if you did, where would I make a reservation and what time would I pick you up.”  I laughed and thought, this guy deserves one date.  Had I not said yes,

I wouldn’t have had a 35 year marriage where I was loved unconditionally every day of my life,

I wouldn’t have my two amazing daughters

I wouldn’t have Loki, my precious grandchild

I wouldn’t have a career where I wake up each morning and have the honor of helping people transform their lives

I wouldn’t have left New York for Connecticut and found the alternative school that my kids went to and met the conscious, fun, loving friends with whom I would raise my children and create fabulous memories with

I wouldn’t have moved to California and have met the most extraordinary friends that a human being could ever have

All this had I had not said yes!  I am as grateful as I write this as I was when I first did the exercise.

What is something in your life that had it not happened your life would be different today?  

My wish for you and your families is that you have much to be grateful for.

I am grateful for your presence in my life even if I have never met you.  I know that you are out there and I am grateful that you use our work to free yourself to live as the unlimited possibilities that you are.


Please do the exercise and describe your results below.

By Published On: Tuesday, November 22, 2016Categories: Gratitude, Holidays7 Comments on Mental Subtraction on Thanksgiving


  1. Jeroen November 27, 2016 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    If I had not found the courage, earlier this year, to end my relationship of 9 years, I would still feel stuck in an unfulfilling relationship. Maybe I would have married a woman I didn’t really want, or even have a child I didn’t really desire. In that case I certainly would have passed on all of my fears. I wouldn’t be able to dream about my dream woman without feeling guilty. At some point I might have started to hate both my partner and myself.
    I wouldn’t have been as motivated to increase my confidence and start new connections. I wouldn’t have bothered taking up badminton or indoor soccer. My body would be much weaker than it is now. I wouldn’t have encountered the Lefkoe method. My career potential would be limited by my fear of rejection. I wouldn’t be able to even leave the house without concern of what others think of me.

    Thank you Shelly & Morty.

  2. Kate November 24, 2016 at 7:11 am - Reply

    If my husband would have not decided to divorce me, I would not have known that I could raise my children by myself, I would not have known myself as strong, independent and worthy of being in the world just as I am, regardless of circumstance.

    Giving thanks this holiday season for your support, Shelly.

  3. Gordon November 23, 2016 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    Thanks! Very Beautiful…Very needed!

  4. John Nelson November 23, 2016 at 7:03 am - Reply

    Shelby thank you for creating this exercise today. I started crying after reading your instruction and I begin to realize how blessed I am. My mother passed this February and I am so grateful that she told me the power forgiveness and she also told me the power of showing myself to be friendly to others.
    I have met a lot of people living in Chicago. I heal with HIV and I continue to write music that touches myself and it touches others.
    I have made an outstanding so call keep forgiveness in your life and because of this song it touches me first and it touches others.
    This phone allows me to be friendly and confident.
    Just before I read the article this morning I was feeling a little alone and reading your instruction sheet really pacemed back into a place of gratitude and for that I am extremely appreciative.
    Thank you

  5. Cindy November 23, 2016 at 5:39 am - Reply

    Absolutely love this exercise! It’s a re-minder for me that flows perfectly when I allow it, get out of my own way & just simply trust the life process. I learned early on to be a care giver trying to take care of everybody else given my upbringing. There was a lot of repressed feelings & anger. Ultimately doing the work on myself has truly served me & my souls plan for me. I know I wouldn’t have been blessed w/3 beautiful, highly creative, unconditionally loving daughters w/which I have the best relationship with had I not had the exact mother I had. There are never any accidents in Life’s perfect design. Wishing you & your family a joyful Thanksgiving. Thank you💜

  6. Mokhtar November 23, 2016 at 2:38 am - Reply

    One event that would have changed my life if I did not happen :

    My kidney transplant, and the best gift my mother gave me: an organ.

    Without it, I would still be on dialysis maybe in a worse shape than I ever was.

    I would not have gone to university, I would not have traveled, I would not have discovered the lekoe method, and I would probably be depressed.

    Now, I am grateful forever for that gift she gave me, and I try to honor her by being the best way I can be.
    As for now, I still have limiting beliefs that hurt my self esteem and daily life, so I thank her for enabling me to continue this process of healing.

    Thank you mom

  7. Phoenix November 23, 2016 at 1:57 am - Reply

    Shelly, I’m all smiles after reading this blog post. ^_^ What an adorable message Morty left you all those years ago. I’m grateful you’re here.

    Okay, if things had happened differently in my life, and I had never gone vegetarian and then vegan…

    I wouldn’t have found Steve Pavlina through a Google search. And I wouldn’t have found the Lefkoe Method through his referral.

    Without your method, I might still be very depressed, shy, and stagnant.

    I wouldn’t be starting a business doing some of the most fun, rewarding, liberating, blissful work imaginable.

    I would still be eating turkey on Thanksgiving. I would be contributing to the unnecessary abuse and slaughter of many animals, despite wanting to care about them and feeling bad about it deep down.

    I wouldn’t have known all the amazing people that I have through various activist groups and events. My heart couldn’t be this open.

    Way back when, I was a depressed, angry teen who couldn’t understand why the world was filled with so much cruelty and suffering. But eventually, that earlier decision I had made to go veg led me to the satisfying sense of purpose I have today. To help make life increasingly kind, liberating, and joyful for both human and nonhuman animals. I hope to more powerfully step into that role each day. I can’t appreciate enough the gift of knowing my purpose, and having the keys to fulfill it, and everything that has made this all possible.

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