Submitted by Alina Akiba
I am the middle child of five to a single mom who grew up in a small village in Quebec, Canada. We didn't always have our basic needs met but every summer and winter holiday was spent at my grandmother's in Toronto. It was hard to see other kids with new clothes and toys, and I often felt envious of them.
I dreamed of a day when I could have all the things I wanted. Fast forward to 2015, I am married, have a job, my own apartment (since before being married), and enough money to do the things I want to do, like go on vacation outside the country.
When my marriage was being put to the test, I happened on a gratitude challenge that suggested posting a picture on social media with something you're grateful for, every day, for 365 days. I was really into photography at that time and liked the idea of focusing on the positive. Before this, I often laid blame onto others whenever things were hard or didn't go my way. I spent the year doing just that and cultivated a habit of gratitude. It helped me understand that I was the master of my own destiny and no matter what I faced there was always something I could be grateful for.
This is not to say it was easy. There were days I didn't know what to be grateful for, either because it was a tough day or nothing eventful happened (or so I thought at first). As time went on and my habit was solidified, it was easier to identify things to be grateful for. What I loved the most about this process I engaged in was that it inspired others to do the same or look at their life from a gratitude lens.
Once the year was over, I stopped posting on social media but I felt the need to keep it up. I searched the Google Play store for an app that could help me with this and came across Gratitude app. At first, I just used it to make note of what I was grateful for every day but eventually, I started to make note of affirmations every morning. Since then, the app has evolved a lot and I love that it provides a daily quote to focus your attention on. It's like a booster to my affirmations. I also like the new feature that provides affirmations. It's always great to have more ideas for how great you are! Ultimately, living a life of gratitude through affirmations and mindful reflection on what is good in my life has been the greatest source of joy and peace for me.
Where I constantly questioned what I had or could be, now I acknowledge where I've been and can more easily appreciate the gifts I have that will lead me to where I want to go. And the bonus is it allows me to appreciate others and the little things they do. It definitely helped me save my marriage. I once said to a friend, I wish I knew about creating a habit of gratitude and not allowing fear to rule my life earlier on. It would have made growing up and my teenage years much more bearable. Despite this not being the case, I am most grateful that I get to pass this habit on to my children and hope they will use it as a balm for the difficulties they face and a source of inspiration.