Just a few short years ago, I was struggling. I had no goals. I was lost, and I was sleeping on my friend’s couch. Life was hard. I was desperate. I lost several jobs, and a relationship unexpectedly fell apart. Every day I woke up fearful. I was uncertain about life, and I hated applying for jobs while I was homeless.

On top of my uncertainty, I couldn’t hold a job. I just couldn’t—not even if someone were to hold a gun to my head and say, “If you don’t keep this job, you’ll be broke, sleeping in a park during the winter, and you’ll have nothing!” I did end up sleeping in a park that November and had my first Christmas where I felt utterly alone and sad.

Then one day I woke up, and something inside me refused to continue. I couldn’t live this way anymore. Something had to change. I couldn’t tolerate my depression, my sadness, my poverty-fueled fears. That day, I made one goal: to change. I had no job, no home, and no money, and yet, I felt sure I could change something.

What Could I Change?

I searched inside. I looked and looked and asked myself, what could I possibly change? Despite my inability to get a job that day, despite being broke, despite feeling alone—what was one thing I could change that could alter everything instantly? What was still in my control so that I could actually change it? I finally discovered the answer was, surprisingly, my thoughts! I could change my thinking. I could choose to see life differently and start putting more hope into life. Changing my thoughts, I realized, could change everything.

Change Your Thoughts First

I decided right then to start spending 30 minutes every day focusing on gratitude, and then another 30 minutes envisioning and writing about a better future. To learn more about how to change my thoughts, I watched YouTube videos from Abraham Hicks, Anthony Robbins, Napoleon Hill, T. Harv Eker, and anyone else who was living the life I wanted. I’d wake up and start my day by listening to one of these videos and meditating on its words. I’d then spend at least 10-30 minutes just sitting quietly and letting myself feel gratitude. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, I would take time every day to feel successful. I walked as if I were already successful and pretended that I already had what I wanted.

Gratitude as a Tool for Change

The next thing I changed was how I spent the remainder of my day. Instead of lying around in despair, I chose to take one powerful action.

As silly as it sounds, this was all I had, and to this day, I believe this action is a huge contributor to my success.

What was this one, singularly potent action? I chose to be thankful for everything and constantly aware of the feeling of gratitude within me. If I receive a smile from a stranger, I’m thankful. When I see my dog’s joy while walking in the park, I’m thankful. If I receive a letter from a friend or someone likes one of my Facebook posts, I’m thankful. When my dad meets me for lunch or I have an idea that feels great, I’m thankful.

Something exciting happened when I started to choose to feel thankful for even the smallest everyday occurrences. Everything turned into an opportunity for gratitude. In my situation, I had no choice but to change. It was either suffer through depression and loss or demand something better of myself. The choice wasn’t easy, but it was my only choice. I wanted joy more than anything, and looking for the silver lining helped me get there. You, too, can find something to be grateful for by simply choosing to do so.

Visualize The Ideal You Every Day

The other exercise I began at this time in my life was visualizing the ideal version of myself. I would walk outside and think about the best possible outcome I wanted for my life. To try this for yourself, spend a moment considering what your ideal life would look like. Then feel it. Consider it as real.

I didn’t stop there though. I’d also ask myself: How does it feel to have success? How does it feel to be the guy who’s just made $10,000 in one month? Then I’d walk as if that success had already happened and I was in the moment of enjoyment. Try it: Just a few steps. Walk as if. That’s all.

Then, the next day I’d return to the same corner of the street, and I’d imagine my results as if they were real. I’d feel the success and walk a few steps, and then a few steps more. I’d return the next day and walk a few steps farther, always feeling what it’s like to be the guy who’s made in one month what he’d once made in three to four months of full-time work.

Seeing yourself as already successful was incredibly empowering and helps to manifest actual success.

Some self-help gurus refer to this practice as ‘the theater of the mind.’ Imagine yourself sitting in a theater, watching your ideal life. It’s powerful!

These Tools Are Life-Changers

What has changed? Well, I can easily make $10,000 a month now. I have a career I love, and I am living the successful life that I used to only pretend was real.

Now it’s your turn to have the success that you fully deserve, and you can start by changing your thoughts to ones of gratitude and thankfulness and visualizing your ideal self and feeling successful.

Thoughts focused on gratitude and the visualization of your ideal life—these are powerful tools for transformation, and you can start using them in your own life today. I used these same methods to go from homeless to earning a six-figure income, and you are just as likely to benefit from focusing on gratitude and imagining your best possible life.

No matter where you’re at in life, these steps can help you. As a matter of fact, after writing this article, I went back and reviewed my own use of these tools and realized I need to reapply them to help me level up again. It’s my sincerest wish that all men and women across the world find greater gratitude, empowerment, and success in life.

Take one small action today and apply just one of these simple tools to help transform your life.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

I used to be homeless and now run a six figure business with my partner and travel the world. My journey to help those in need has taken me from non-profit director to supporting holistic entrepreneurs have a life of freedom. I run the Thriving Launch Podcast, which features the most influential leaders in the areas of love, spirituality, business, and success. It’s my mission to help heart-centered entrepreneurs get their message heard with podcasting.