Many successful people tell us that we should keep a Gratitude Journal, that this is a key activity of every successful and happy person. Many thought leaders have suggested that when we understand how to practice gratitude in our daily we will become more prosperous and happy people ourselves.

I had read this, maybe even tried keeping a Gratitude Journal once or twice, but I really didn't know what gratitude was all about. Not because I was unthankful, I just didn't understand what it meant to feel grateful for the things in my life, when it seemed that most everyone I knew, including myself, was hell bent on accomplishing more, getting more things, and climbing the Mount Everest of Achievements, faster than everyone else. When I took stock of my life, it felt like time was running out. How could I possibly do, get, and achieve everything I thought I needed to in this lifetime?

I tried to grasp the concept of gratitude, for my current life circumstances, because I knew it would be a good thing if I did. And even in that thought process, I had missed the boat entirely.

"Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has—as opposed to, for example, a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants. Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude, and can increase our well-being and happiness by doing so. In addition, gratefulness—and especially expression of it to others—is associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy.” - Psychology Today

Gratitude wasn't something I learned through appreciation or journaling, or taking stock in my life and my relationships. No, gratitude, was something I learned through failure and defeat.

"I have learned to give, not because I have much, but because I know exactly how it feels to have nothing.”

Strangely, the process of defeat became the teacher of one of the most important and immutable life lessons one can learn in this lifetime. Becoming grateful for my life and everything I had (and then didn't have) was the ROI I received when I invested everything I had in an ideal and then lost it all.

What I learned was that my ability to dream, implement, follow through, lose it all, recover against all odds, and optimistically work toward an ideal with hope beyond hope, helped me to see the value of what it is to be alive. Learning gratitude for my life, creativity, resourcefulness, and becoming grateful for life force still coursing within me, was the immeasurable bounty of going broke.

"When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around." - Willie Nelson

There are times when our world feels like it is breaking down and dissolving right in front of our eyes and we might feel like it is totally out of our control. At the same time, something strange begins to happen inside ourselves. We begin to become more resourceful than we have ever been before. We begin to think creatively. We begin to know our own self-worth in a way that we've never contemplated or experienced before.

As we are stripped of things we once thought were important, we begin to understand that at the core of our being we are worthy of existence, not because of what we do or what we have, but because of who we are.

Your life and the value you bring to the world through your own self expression and creativity are the most priceless possessions that no one and no thing can ever take from you. There is no other speck of stardust in the Universe just like you. No one else thinks your thoughts, feels your feelings, has your desires, or is capable of doing the things you do, in the way that you and only you do them.

The essence of Gratitude, is appreciation for life in and of itself. Your life matters, because you are you, and no one else can do what you are here to do. Since you are still alive, your life has a reason and a purpose and if there is breath in your lungs, you haven't fulfilled your mission on yet. Time to figure out what you are still doing here and go for it.


Chloë Rain is The Human Experience Artist, CEO & Founder of Explore Deeply™. To read more about how turning left instead of right can change everything, including how just being nice can get you far in life and in bed, and what to do when heart break doesn’t kill you, go to where Chloë shares stories on the search to find true love, life purpose, and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. To read the original post about living in Paris and having a love affair go here. For more inspiration and to like Explore Deeply, go here.

Love to write?

Every month we select at few writers to help us explore what it means to live a life of reflection and intention. Reach out to Helen, our editor at to learn more

Holstee explores what it means to live a life of intention and reflection through art, words, and action. Sign up for the Holstee Subscription and join our growing community today!

Learn More

Recent Articles

In The Studio (Again) With Jennifer Lioy

A conversation with April's featured artist.

The Compassionate New Yorker

How one random act of kindness can inspire others to do the same.

Let Me Be: A Note To Self

For the times you need permission, encouragement, and compassion (from yourself).