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"Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity...it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." Melody Beattie

Sitting in a coffee shop in Lincoln Road on a bright and sunny day I received a call from my aunt stating, “ Your Mom just had a seizure she is not looking well, I am scared she is not going to make it.” At that moment, everything started to feel as if it was operating in slow motion, my heart began to race, and I could barely breathe. My aunt continued, “Hurry and get here get on the first flight you can.” My mind began to race, and I immediately started to visualize the worst and thoughts began to cross my mind like wildfire such as “She is going to die,” “You won't be able to say goodbye,” “You should have been there.”

Hearing those words from my aunt I had to choose if I was going to believe in my thoughts of fear or gratitude. I knew that this was where I had to put into practice everything I have learned about gratitude. As the anxiety became prevalent in my mind and body, I started to make a shift. I began to think, “I am grateful that my mom is alive now,” “I am grateful that she is at the hospital and is being taken care of.” Shortly after changing my thoughts, I bought a ticket and started heading home to pack my bags and drive to the airport. Thinking thoughts of gratitude, of course, did not mean that I was happy or feeling good it just allowed me to see clearly and to make decisions to get me to where I needed to be. As I arrived to New York and walked in the hospital, I realized that it was a privilege for me to be able to get on a plane and get to my mother side. I felt gratitude for the fact that she had the luxury of having great doctors, nurses, and staff help her and take care of her. The same applies to everyday life; it is a privilege to have electricity, water, and food to feed our bodies. The more you practice this you will find endless things to feel grateful for.

After this experience, it has helped me feel gratitude on a deeper level than before. Life is challenging with its twist and turns, as many of us will learn. At times we focus so much on what is going wrong and what we need to change that we forget to appreciate the little things in life. Too often we spend our moments together complaining and in the thoughts of self-pity, sadness, and defeat. However, if we want to live radical lives, we must learn to focus on our blessings instead of our troubles. Of course, it’s not easy to do this especially when you experience something for the millionth time, or you’re on the verge of losing a loved one, or life feels as if everything is working against you. But life is not about making changes only if they are comfortable.

Developing the muscle of gratitude is like going to the gym it takes time and practice. As you start to make this change, you will feel uncomfortable, and your mind will struggle with this new way of thinking. How do we begin to live a life of radical gratitude? By starting our days with magnified appreciation. Some people pray and give thanks; I start my day by writing a list of at least ten things I am grateful for. However, you choose to practice gratitude is up to you and the more you do this; the more it becomes a habit. It starts to become your way of being, and you will find yourself not just doing this in the morning but also going through your day giving thanks.

Gratitude transforms your life and works as alchemy in situations of defeat. As I mentioned before, it is not easy, and it never gets easy, but you will be able to enjoy moments to the fullest because you appreciate the fact that you’re even alive. Truth is we will not be here forever, and as we know this intellectually, we must remember this in our hearts.

Years ago when I started this practice, I was experiencing heartbreak and found myself constantly complaining about it. When I read on the Internet about living with gratitude, I started to make my morning gratitude list daily.  Now, it is the way that I deal with everything in life. Start today by writing down all the blessings in your life and express appreciation to those you love while you can. Watch as your days start to feel lighter and next time you face hardship elevate your mind by thinking thoughts of appreciation.  Spend your days in radical gratitude and you’ll see how life will offer you more blessings than you could have ever imagined.

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