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

Needless to say when I got the diagnosis of invasive breast cancer as I was speeding to the birth of my first adopted child, there was no way I was painting a lovely picture of my life. And I felt no gratitude in that moment. I wanted to scream, “WHY ME, NOW!?” After everything I had already been through I couldn’t imagine bearing one more thing. “THIS ISN’T FAIR,” I thought.

I went through the gamut of emotions, the anger, the denial, and the resentment.

But when I held my beautiful baby girl, Eliana, in my arms and gazed into her eyes, my heart opened and I was grateful. For a moment, before the reality of what was to come, I was present and filled with love. The gratitude for this precious child that I had longed for and waited so long for was an enormous part of what got me through the double mastectomy, the rounds of chemotherapy, the reconstruction, the fear and the pain. This was the greatest adversity and the greatest joy I had ever experienced but I still was not ready to paint it into a lovely picture.

Perhaps some of you may believe that with a miracle such as a newborn, it would be easier to focus on gratitude. But there also was a keener sense of my mortality and the possibility I would not be able to enjoy this gift or worse, leave her before we could share a life together.

Over time it wasn’t only the immensity of my love for Eliana that filled me with gratitude. It was the small things as well. I began to sweat the small irritations less and embrace the perspective that life is precious, all of it, and finding joy in the things we take for granted is essential.

Eventually, I began to notice as I focused on the many things I was and am truly grateful for I noticed a shift in my day-to-day mood. I began to have more hours of happiness and joy. I smiled more and laughed more and began to get “my happy back”.

At first I had to make a conscious effort to look for the things that I was thankful for. I kept a gratitude journal and I was determined to find things to appreciate but at other times and more often I would find myself just smiling or in a good mood. It was as though the very act of appreciation magnified the feeling and brought in more things to appreciate.

I continue to keep a gratitude journal. I continue to make it a focus of my day to day life and I can truly say that it is one of the most powerful tools we have to heal our emotional and spiritual wounds and in healing the emotional and spiritual we heal the physical as well.

Now there is no shortage of the lovely pictures I have created in my life.

Original article written by Dr. Keri Chiappino of and posted to