How I Used Gratitude to Transform My Life in the Midst of Hardship

gratitude hardship

“Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture.”

– Kak Sri

You’re struggling to be grateful every day.  Right?

You know you should be grateful. You’ve been told to count your blessings. You’ve been told gratitude will increase your happiness.

But when you’re going through hard times, it’s easy to think, “What’s the point?”

Acquiring an attitude of gratitude is tough. But if you make the effort to practice it every day, in the midst of your hardship, you might find the thing that entirely transforms your life.

Can I tell you my gratitude transformation?

My husband and I were happily married. For three years, we had tried to have a baby and nothing had happened. A second and third opinion confirmed what the first doctor had said. I had acute fibroids and the only thing that could be done was a hysterectomy.

Scary stuff right there.

I cried and cried and cried, day in, day out. I felt empty and heavy hearted.

How was I going to walk among people, especially when the culture is biased against childless women? When there is little tolerance and they say the most ignorant things?

“So you don’t want kids?”

“When are you going to have kids?”

“Aren’t you afraid to raise kids when you’re old?’

“Maybe God didn’t want you to have kids.”

I was shrouded in shame, stigma and secrecy. Seeing pregnant women was a constant reminder of failure- that baby I so wanted but couldn’t have.

Desperately hoping to prove all three doctors wrong, I tried every supplement known to man, and nothing happened.

Well, things turned deadly. The tumors enlarged and started crippling me. I was tired of being sick. Painfully, I opted for a hysterectomy.

The feeling of emptiness was overwhelming. Trying to have a baby was over, and I could only imagine what it would be like to have and hold a newborn.

The doctor said she didn’t know how I had survived that long with such huge tumors.

During my follow-up appointments, I met a lady who had lost her unborn child and was going through hysterectomy because she had uterine cancer.

That made me grateful for what I had gone through. It could have been me with cancer and the loss of a child. Yes, I had lost the chance to have a baby, but everything else was just fine. I had to recognize the benefit of being content the way I was and be thankful that I was healthy, even though I didn’t think childlessness was fair.

Sometimes losing that which you once held dear is the thing that points you to gratitude.

I learned so much about suffering and loneliness that it changed me in ways that are deep and difficult to explain. I gained empathy for those who endure grief in their own way.

I’m grateful from the time I wake up in the morning until I lie down to sleep.

Lets talk about ways gratitude will transform your life.

1. Gratitude will improve your health.

Gratitude will increase your quality of life. According to psychologists Michael McCullough and Doctor Robert Emmons, those who practice gratitude are more alert and enthusiastic, have less stress and better health.

Emmons states that those who practice gratitude are livelier and happier than those who don’t. Check out his book, Thanks! How the Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.

Gratitude made me accept that I wasn’t going to have children. After the acceptance, I became happier and stress-free.  I was also grateful for the good health I had acquired after surgery.

2. Compassion will be your companion.

You will be compelled to be kind to people. Their burdens will become yours too; at their lowest point, you will be able to stand by their side until the storm has passed. You’ll be able to assist them without expecting anything in return.

You will appreciate those you encounter regardless of the differences you have.

Gratitude transformed me from being addicted to myself, and I was able to get out of my pity party and help those in need. I realized there were those with worse pain and problems than I had.

3. Your relationships with other people will improve.

When you practice gratitude, you will be open to love people without creating any barriers, because you’ll understand they have been placed in your life to be loved. You will show them genuine love, the kind you give yourself.

Gratitude gave me the chance to have and love a child through adoption.

4. Gratitude will transform your self-esteem.

You will be able to love and accept yourself the way you are.  You will never base your gratitude on what people think you should do, and you will never change to please them.

I was able to free myself from fear of the backlash I was getting for not having a child. I felt complete and no less than those who had kids.

5. Gratitude will let you sail through the storm.

When the storm hits you, you will be able to sail through because you will have practiced gratitude for small wins or losses. All the storms will be counted as joy because no matter what happens to you, you know they will pass.

I learned that storms are part of life and cannot be avoided, but I chose to be grateful when they came because they made me stronger.

6. Gratitude will compel you to forgive others with joy.

Gratitude compels you to be sincere with yourself and do what is best for your inner peace. Forgiving those who hurt you heals you from the burden of hate that had consumed you. When you forgive people, it’s for your own joy.

Forgiving those who hurt me by saying ignorant things was the best gift I gave myself, and it brought inner peace.

7. Gratitude will help you realize that miracles happen everywhere.

Your eyes will be opened, and no matter the circumstances, there will be miracles in the midst. Seek for the miracle and you will be able to find it.

What I thought was the darkest moment of my life turned into a blessing and opened my eyes to see a child that needed me.

Living a grateful transformed life takes effort.

Remember that being grateful is a choice. Gratitude means acknowledging the goodness of a life worth living. If you can practice being perfect in other areas of your life, you can also practice  gratitude. Make it your daily walk.

The world needs your gratitude.

Surround yourself with gratitude every day.

Let your transformed life give hope to those you encounter.

Shine the transformation light and let the world see it.

Let today be the day you start living a life with a purpose.

What are you grateful for?

61 thoughts on “How I Used Gratitude to Transform My Life in the Midst of Hardship”

  1. Ann, thank you for having the courage to share your story. I know other women walking a (somewhat) similar path, and gratitude has been an important piece of their life puzzle. This post reminds me to be grateful for what I do have! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    1. Thanks Ashley for the comment. You right, be grateful for what you have even when you probably don’t think it’s enough.

  2. Well said!!! Thank you for sharing your experience and for putting into words things that I have learned in my own painful journey.

  3. What a beautiful story yours is, Ann. Thank you for sharing. And I’m reminded by it that we can’t be in Gratitude and Fear at the same time. Gratitude just saves me. And today I’m grateful for your post!

  4. Ann, I love reading stories by people courageously sharing their heartbreak. In January, I declared this A Year of Gratitude. I had created a Gratitude 100 Journal and shared it with others. And was grateful it did impact a couple of people. And I’ve found that, as you said, consciously practicing gratitude impacts life in powerful ways creating an abundance of blessings and opportunities and inspiration. And I’ve also acknowledged how when we recognize our attachments and let go of the fear of losing them we discover a new kind of freedom – as you did. I’m sure that you will find a way of bringing children into your life and family. Thanks for sharing your story.

  5. Skywalker, Thank you for your inspiring words. I like your 100 journal gratitude. Was it a blog? Other stories inspired me to share mine. We did adopt a son and surrounded by nieces and nephews.

  6. Thank you for the reminder that even when we think we are devastated, things COULD be worse. Refocusing perspective is a powerful thing. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Very nice article. And well-written one too.

    We have so much to be grateful for but we often let unfavorable circumstances cloud our sense of gratitude.

    I love the second and third ways gratitude can transform our lives. It helps make us more sensitive to the plight of others going thru seemingly abnormal situations in life. And part of being sensitive is minding our speech, giving a little forethought to what we say, so we do not add salt to injury as it were.

    Like the barrage of questions you’ve had to endure on not having a child. Sorry you’ve had to go thru all of that and are still going thru that.

    Giving forethought to our speech helps us avoid stereotyping people. Over here, some would even question your moral integrity. More of “think she’s had too many abortions, and maybe she ruined her womb as a result.”

    Overall, gratitude helps us treat others as we’d love to be treated – like you’ve mentioned in your post.

    1. Uniobong, I know what you mean…. that culture of a closed mindset(blaming every situation to the victims habits). Though living far I still get the sting from it.

  8. I’m GRATEFUL for a beautiful loving wife who ALWAYS wants to encourage others !!!! LOVE YOU ANN DAVIS, your hubby

  9. Ann, thank you for such a wonderful post! I am such a happier person by demonstrating my gratitude toward life and the people in it. I am thankful for your post because reaffirmed my perspective on happiness and joy in life.

  10. Great post. I loved hearing your personal story. It’s amazing how gratitude can change EVERYTHING. I love to think of one thing I’m grateful for while doing sun salutations. With each round I think on that one thing and it’s incredibly refreshing.

    Thanks for sharing.

  11. Hey Ann,
    Thanks so much for sharing such a personal, heartfelt story. It took me 5 pregnancies to get my 2 girls into the world, and your story is useful reminder of how grateful I am that I was finally able to achieve that dream.

  12. Ann, thank you for sharing your story and courage. One of the most beautiful displays of gratitude I have seen is a cousin’s wife who posted her gratitude for her cancer journey.

    1. Joyce, thank you. How is your cousin’s wife doing? I’m glad she is finding gratitude through it. Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend unless you’ve been through it, to realize you only have gratitude to hang on to.

  13. Wow, what a powerful story!

    You’re very brave for sharing it, it says a lot about you.

    Gratitude is for sure the attitude :-)


    1. Maria, Thank you for stopping by. I have wanted to share the story for years but backed out of the deal each time. Well……it’s done. It’s like coming out of the closet where you want people to know there is nothing wrong about birthing a child.

  14. Thank you for that beautiful and personal story Ann!
    I’m on the other side of the spectrum, being perfectly healthy but without the desire to have children and the judgments and stigma’s are still as bad and oddly painful.
    Gratitude is indeed the first thing that popped up in me after reading this post!

    1. Linda, the desire to have a child was quenched by adopting a child. It’s hard work I must say and salute to those with more than one. The sigma will always remain, I have moved on with no pain or shame. I just hope others in my situation would too.

  15. Thank you Ann for the beautiful post. I greatly admire people who remain joyful, grateful and positive despite the pains and difficulties that life can bring. I can see by your wonderful story that it helped you and I want you to know it helped me too.

  16. Powerful writing Ann. I’m sure you helped many by being willing to share such a personal story. Gratitude is an awesome antidote when life knocks you for six and being immersed in it as you clearly are can only create many more things to be grateful for.

    Thanks for this.


  17. Shouldn’t we all in the West with our food luxuries, lighting at the press of a switch, televisions, human rights, freedom of religious expression, modern medicine, and so on; be grateful for all such things daily.
    I have an unconventional personal Faith, which I call Lifism, which would be punished in some cultures and times but here I ‘m free to follow it, for which I’m so thankful – not least to GOD.

    1. Robert, thank you for the comment. I agree with you- we have all things at our disposal and sometimes we forget to be grateful and take it for granted.

  18. Wow, that is a powerful sharing. I am grateful to have read your personal story, Ann. I, too, SO believe in the gratitude antidote to woes — by looking for what there is to be thankful, whether it is every day joys or heavy challenges. I created a Grace of Gratitude Journal with beautiful artwork by my artist soul sister Tara Thelen to encourage others to find out about this amazing practice. Blessings to you, Ann, for sharing your heart with us all.

    1. Thank you Deborah…I agree there is gratitude in joy and challenges and life is cannot be complete without both. Is your artwork in a blog?

  19. Thank you, Ann, for sharing your story.

    As I read your post, I was reminded of how often we fail to be grateful for what we have because we seem so focused on what we lack. I also believe we tend to associate gratitude with something big and loud. But what about all the tiny little moments when we receive and should be grateful for? Those seemingly insignificant moments that sum up to a boatload of gratefulness and that we fail to acknowledge.

    Thank you for reminding us not to overlook all the things that we should be grateful for.

    1. Pat, thank you for commenting. I think it’s human nature to tend to be grateful when they receive big things. I tended to dwell on not having kids and forgot to be grateful for the good health I had. ..

  20. Hi Ann – such a heartfelt story. Amazingly brave to put it out there. My brother and his wife has something similar. After years of trying everything, they finally adopted a beautiful boy and they are grateful for him every day. Gratitude is transformational.

    1. Hey Mark,

      Thank you for commenting. It wasn’t an easy post to write but I did to encourage those in similar situations. That is awesome of your brother and his wife- biological or adopted kids are all the same.

  21. Thank you, Ann for courageously sharing this powerful story and for reminding that gratitude is a powerful force for good, even in the midst of pain.

    1. Thank you Cylon for the sweet words. I wrote the story to encourage those who might think they have nothing to be grateful for…and yes even in pain.

  22. Ann, what a fantastic and intimate post. There are so many things I admire you for and like about this post I barely know where to start. It’s so brave to open yourself up like this. I know I’m reluctant to tell people my story since I feel I don’t want to be defined by my illness and my other challenges. I also feel “who’s interested anyway?” and “won’t they label me as a basket case?” I think I would somehow feel exposed and naked. I don’t know if I want that that’s why I admire your courage in talking about your adversity.

    I blog about adversity and how it’s possible to thrive in life even when we feel overwhelmed by our troubles. Using gratitude as a way of transforming your life as you’ve put it is not something I’ve touched on yet. Gratitude is something which helps me personally to feel good and I’ve consciously tried showing my appreciation to people for a job well done so it spreads the positive vibes. I hope a gratitude attitude will help other people too to change from an inward to an outward focus.

    I hope it’s okay but I’ve put a link on my blog to this post so my readers (few as they are) can see your wonderful post too.

    As a final act of gratitude I would say thank you and reading your post is probably the best thing that has happened to me today.

  23. Hey Pete,

    Thank you for your kind words. I was afraid to share my story just like you are, but I thought about people who would benefit about hearing it.
    Everyone has a story they are scared to share and those who would point label you- I can bet they too have a story.
    I hope you will be brave enough to share your story.


  24. Hi Ann, what a wonderful story of gratitude in the midst of pain and loss. I too have decided this year to make gratitude a greater part of my daily walk and I can already see my life being transformed even more.

    All the best to you and your family,


    1. Jimmy, Thank you for your kind words. I’m happy to hear you have decided to make this year your gratitude walk. Your life will be transformed.

  25. Thank you for sharing your personal journey to gratitude, Ann! I recently experienced sudden hearing loss – for which apparently there’s no cure – so I can relate to your struggles with such a huge change! I found accepting the situation and being grateful for what I did have was the way forward. :) Andrea

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