Gratitude in the Midst of Fear

Gratitude helps us focus on what we have rather than what we've lost.
Gratitude helps us focus on what we have rather than what we’ve lost.

Monday I wrote a post about something new I’ve been doing recently, developing a gratitude practice. I was inspired to start it after the marathon bombings and other recent events that happened in the U.S.

One of the biggest challenges to sticking to a gratitude practice is sticking to it when things happen in your own life that try to shake your beliefs or test your faith. Even though practicing gratitude makes me feel better, sometimes my brain tries to trick me into believing it’s easier to give in and let the negative thoughts take over.

Earlier this week I found out that one of my relatives is no longer in cancer remission. Late last summer my cousin’s wife was diagnosed with AML Leukemia. She fought back hard and beat the aggressive disease within months and has been in remission since just after Christmas.

When she was initially diagnosed I was of course upset and worried, but I knew she’d pull through. It feels like her illness is hitting me harder this time, not because I think she’s not strong enough to pull through again…it’s more like another nudge from the universe reminding me how precarious life is.

She’s 33. My age. Maybe it’s narcissistic of me, or maybe it’s just a normal human reaction, but when I think about someone my age fighting for their life, I can’t help but feel like I should be doing more with my own.

I berate myself. I feel ungrateful and irresponsible.  I think about what I should have, should do, should be. I should write more. Focus on my career more.  Take on more projects. Learn more things. I should be a better friend, daughter, sister and wife.

And this line of thinking is where I struggle. Life is short, so I should do more with my time here, right? Or maybe I should do less and get more out of it. I don’t consider myself to be a Type A personality, but in certain circumstances I can feel discouraged and like I am not enough.

It is through moments like these where  my gratitude practice takes shape and I look at things from a different perspective. Rather than looking at what I have and feeling that it’s not enough, I am learning to see things as they are: a work in progress. And are just the start, or middle, of something great.

At this moment in time I can’t explain why my family is facing this particular struggle. What I can do is be grateful that during this difficult period we’re all banded together in faith and prayer with one common goal. I can be grateful that through her remarkable courage and unshakable faith she is a witness to others, myself included.

Her faith and attitude has served as a reminder that we do not have to be fearful even though our circumstances may be scary. We don’t have to worry how we’ll be better, get more and be more when we’re in the middle of a transition. After all, it is through practicing gratitude that we bring abundance into our lives, it is gratitude that transforms mystery into merriment, confusion into comfort.

*If you would like to consider helping someone in their battle with leukemia, lymphoma and other diseases, sign up to be a bone marrow donor at and be the match for someone.