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How Gratitude Saved My Life

How Gratitude Saved My Life by Kelley Grimes at Cultivating Peace and Joy

Gratitude is my life raft.” ~Alan Kaufman

I love this quote by Alan Kaufman, for indeed gratitude has also been my life raft for years and literally saved my life. I know this statement may sound dramatic to some of you, but after caring for a child with chronic health challenges for most of my adult life, this is my truth.

I came to understand the importance of gratitude as a practice, while supporting my daughter who was diagnosed with epilepsy at age two years old and then with chronic daily migraines as a teen.

This gift of gratitude, however, did not arrive neatly packaged as common sense on my doorstep. Instead I spent many early days of my two year old daughter’s diagnosis filled with grief, overwhelmed with the prospect of how her condition could limit her and her future, and searching for answers to why she was suffering.

The profound grief and sense of loss as a new parent was all encompassing and pervasive.

To add to my overwhelm, a few months after she was diagnosed I found out I was pregnant and had terrible morning sickness, and then six months after that my grandmother and father died within two weeks of each other.

To say that I was drowning in grief, overwhelm and exhaustion was no exaggeration.

Trying to find anything to feel grateful about during this time was indeed a challenge, but due to the incredible kindness of people in my life an opening was created for me to connect to a deep river of gratitude within.

Opening to my gratitude, I began to reframe the challenges I was experiencing as opportunities to learn and grow. I started to recognize so many blessings in my life, and deeply appreciate all the love and support so generously being given to me and my family.

Intentionally including gratitude into my daily life transformed my mindset completely and even allowed me to identify the blessings of being the parent of a child with a chronic health challenge.

This profound experience cultivated my belief that gratitude as a practice is the most simple but powerful choice you can make to transform your situation, your mindset and to nurture yourself.

I now believe that every difficult experience has a lesson to teach and when I view the challenges from this perspective, gratitude flows easily.

I have seen what a difference gratitude has made in my daughter’s life. She lived with chronic pain but remained optimistic, joyful, loving, radically hospitable, and takes nothing for granted through.

Gratitude has taught us both the importance of filling up our joy buckets and nurturing ourselves consistently. I love this reminder from Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, “Don’t be concerned about being disloyal to your pain by being joyous.” One big lesson of parenting someone with a chronic health challenge is to embrace each day as a gift!

I love that gratitude refocuses us on what is worthwhile in our lives, deepens our experience of the good in this world and elevates the quality of our lives. Gratitude allows us to tap into joy, which fuels our motivation, enthusiasm, love, inspiration and creation of the life we want to live. Gratitude also helps us be more resilient and empowered.

  • So what lessons have challenging times taught you?
  • How can you cultivate gratitude in your daily life?
  • What difference can being grateful make in your life?

May you embrace gratitude as a practice especially during challenging times and may you nurture peace in the world from the inside out!

Please share your comments below to inspire and encourage others. Thank you!

Kelley Grimes

Sending you so much peace, love and gratitude,

Kelley Grimes, M.S.W.
Counselor, Author & Speaker

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Join the discussion 26 Comments

  • Reba Linker says:

    Wow, Kelley, what a perfect storm of challenging circumstances. You have really lived the message of the power of gratitude. Thank you for sharing your story. I love the quote from Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, “Don’t be concerned about being disloyal to your pain by being joyous.” That speaks to me as well. xo, Reba

    • Thank you so much Reba for your kind words! It is amazing to look back at the last twenty years and recognize how much my family has been through and celebrate how we are truly thriving today. Gratitude indeed saved my life and continues to be a powerful self-nurturing practice for me and my daughter. That quote is so powerful and I am grateful it resonated with you and Lore as well! Thank you so much!

  • Lore Raymond says:

    So appreciating these words which I’d never read, “I love this reminder from Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, “Don’t be concerned about being disloyal to your pain by being joyous.” Thanks, Kelley. I’m happy your life WAS saved so that we could connect and also share the joyous launching of the book #GratitudeandGrace next week.

    • I love that quote from Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan too Lore! It has been so helpful to me and I often share it with clients who feel guilty for feeling joy while grieving. I am so excited about our new book Opening to Gratitude and Grace and cannot wait to share it with the world! Thank you so much for your comment!

  • Andrea says:

    I’m reminded of the wisdom I witnessed during my time working in the addiction recovery community. I often heard people with long-term sobriety say something like this:

    “The only person I can change is me. The easiest thing to change is my attitude. And the surest way to do that is with gratitude.”

    Thanks for a lovely post.

    • Andrea I love the wisdom you shared! Yes the surest way to change our attitude is through gratitude and I find it has lasting impacts and ripple effects far beyond myself. Thank you so much for your comment!

  • Peggy says:

    I wake up every day grateful to be breathing. Grateful to be alive. My own dark night of the soul taught me valuable lessons in gratitude and in appreciating all that I have and to focus on what I have right now. Much love, Peggy

    • What a beautiful energy to start your day with Peggy – deep gratitude for being alive! It is amazing the lessons we can learn from the dark night of the soul when we realize that gratitude is the most powerful response. Thank you so much for your comment!

  • Tae Lynne says:

    Kelley, what a lovely reminder that a practice of gratitude can change our moods, our lives..even our pain! Living with chronic pain myself, I know that when I focus on the simple, joyful things in my life (like my beautiful flowers & abundant tomatoes in my garden), I feel much better. It takes my mind off the negative and allows me to fill up my soul with happiness. Much love to you & your daughter. <3

    • You are so right that when we focus on joyful things in our lives we feel better. I love that you fill up your soul with happiness and that gratitude is part of that practice. Thank you so much for your kind words and comment!

  • I remind myself every day how blessed I am to have a roof over my head, food to eat, clothes to wear, a family that loves me and work I love. I am better off than more than half the people in the world. I offer my gratitude in prayer every morning and in my journal every day, and I try to let my life be my way of saying thank you by using it to help others.

  • Debra Reble says:

    This is such an inspiring post Kelley and why gratitude is my #1 love practice. Gratitude always reminds me that no matter what is going on in my life, there is always something to be thankful for. And counting those blessings lifts me out of fear, anger and resentment and into a higher vibration…one of love! When I open my heart in gratitude, fear, anger and resentment cannot co-exist in the same space. Thank you xo

    • You are so right Debra that when we come from gratitude our fear, anger and resentment cannot co-exist and love rules! I love thinking of gratitude as the #1 love practice. Thank you so much for your comment!

  • Natasha Botkin says:

    Beautifully stated Kelley. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. xoxo

  • Kelley, You might not think it to look at my work now, and how much I’m committed to gratitude, but oh boy was it hard for me to get there. Honestly, my first attempts at a daily gratitude list included things like: I’m grateful I’m not having surgery right now without anesthesia. Or I’m grateful I’m not staked naked to an anthill with honey poured all over me.
    But these snarky gratitudes (that were all I could come up with at the beginning) helped me make gratitude a habit, and then the nature of the expressed gratitude began to change. For which: Phew!

    For me too, gratitude is a life-changer, and a life-saver.

    I especially love this: “Don’t be concerned about being disloyal to your pain by being joyous.” I get it so deeply on so many levels!

    Thank you, will share this now.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your process Sue and for affirming the power of gratitude even when it is difficult. It is amazing how gratitude can transform us and become a life-changer and life-saver. Thank you so much for your comment!

  • This is such a beautiful lesson you’ve learned and shared, Kelley. Thank you for being here spreading your light.

    • Thank you so much Vironika for your kinds words. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share what I have learned and to keep learning and growing! Thank you for your comment!

  • Suzie Cheel says:

    I give thanks daily for my life- it was a lifesaver for me too when I had a NDE years ago I say that Abundance sits on the wings of gratitude , thanks for sharing xx

    • Oh Suzie I love your statement that abundance sits on the wings of gratitude! Beautiful! What a blessing and lifesaver gratitude can be! Thank you so much for your comment!

  • Kelley, like you, I credit my gratitude practice for transforming my life twenty-six years ago. I was a single mom on welfare and struggling to keep my emotional, spiritual, and financial footing.

    As I share in the Introduction to #GratitudeandGrace I picked up a book that recommended starting each day by writing five things I was grateful for. It wasn’t easy but I stick with it and my outer world began to match my new inner world.

    My journey is why I am honored and thrilled to publish the stories of you and your coauthors on Aug. 16th.

    My deepest desire is that the stories will inspire others to tap into the healing power of gratitude.


    • Linda I believe we have always connected so deeply because we understand the power of gratitude for healing. When I had a sneak peak at your introduction to our Opening to Gratitude and Grace book, I felt you beautifully articulated the healing power of gratitude and its presence in your life. I am beyond grateful to have you as my publisher and friend and am thrilled to share my story “All is Well” in this book. I also hold the deep desire that the stories will inspire others to tap into the healing power of gratitude and look forward to sharing it with the world on August 16th! Thank you so much for your comment, support and love!

  • I agree with you that gratitude is vital since it helps us refocus our attention to what is going good in our lives. Your story reminded me of some of the stories written in the book “Your Soul’s Plan” By Robert Schwartz. Such a great post Kelley! Thank you.

    • Thank you so much Claudia! It is amazing the difference refocussing on what is going well in our lives does for our mood, perspective and stress level! I will check out the book you mentioned and appreciated your kind words!

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