As a child I knew very little about gratitude or how to express it. We were not taught the simple expression of “thank you” and the only mention of gratitude was in the meaningless words that were simply lip-service at the many prayer times. I had no real association to a feeling of genuine gratitude for anything in my life. I knew nothing of what it could do for me and its real value. In fact, I did not really understand gratitude until my mid-life breakdown when I discovered it to be the first essential component to rebuilding my life.

I began to discover gratitude at a time when my life was falling apart around me. Everything I had built in my life was crumbling and I was forced to rethink everything I thought I knew.  I was in sunrise-neighborhoodsuch a state of dark depression that my mind slipped into thoughts of suicide.  Out of desperation to save myself and be who I needed to be for my family I began carving out a few minutes each day for me.  The only time I had to myself was at 6:30 each morning and in that precious time I started walking through the quiet streets surrounding my home. In those few minutes each morning I began clearing my mind and reconnecting with myself. And, it was in one early morning sunrise that I discovered gratitude.

One morning I asked myself how to fix my life. The voice within me said, “Begin with Gratitude.”

At the time I had nothing to be grateful for, at least that I could think of. I was in the middle of a bankruptcy and foreclosure on my home thanks to the economic crisis of the time. I had lost my business – a business I thought would make an impact in the world and makes women’s lives easier. My children were “not-normal” by traditional standards and my once blissful marriage was on the rocks. On the horizon was one of the most beautiful sunrises I had ever seen. The sky became washed in orange, purple and pink as the sun began to peek above the houses on the horizon. In that sunrise I finally understood gratitude. The ability to witness that spectacular sunrise led to my being grateful for eyes to see the sun as it rose above the homes around me, ears to hear the song of birds waking in the nearby trees and a nose to breathe in the smell of flowers. I felt grateful for the strong legs that carried me on my walk and the lungs that filled me with fresh morning air.  In that feeling of gratitude I began to feel a sense of peace about my life that I had not felt in a very long time, if ever.  I began to recognize how gratitude had the ability to shift everything in my life. What began as one small simple feeling of appreciation led to a complete shift in my way of being.

That moment of inspiration began to change how I viewed everything in my life.  I made it a daily and consistent practice to look for gratitude in every experience and every aspect of my life. It was not easy looking at my failures and disappointments with gratitude but I found a way. In my ability to find the good in all things I began attracting more good and more of what was best for me.  I attracted friends I would have otherwise never connected with, I created relationships and opportunities I would have never imagined and I found a deeper and more inspiring reason for my own personal existence.  I found myself and my connection to all that is.

Gratitude saved my life! I am grateful, not for any particular thing, but for all things.