Practise gratitude, as it will help you in your quest in striving for balance in your life. *iStock photo
Practise gratitude, as it will help you in your quest in striving for balance in your life. *iStock photo

When I started this column, I wrote out several thoughts to ensure that I had a bank of topic ideas to go to. I guess I was worried that I might be sitting staring at a blank computer screen on the eve of a deadline! I allocated the topics I came up with to each month. This month my note indicated that I would write about gratitude, which turned out to be quite timely. 

Maya Angelou  exemplified gratitude

The recent passing of Maya Angelou is an excellent time to think about gratitude and the blessings we have around us. I got goose bumps whenever I heard Maya Angelou speak. I never had the pleasure of hearing her in person, just watching her on TV, but I can only imagine how amplified the chills would have been in her presence. 

She was a remarkable woman who through her own power and determination transformed not only her life, but the lives of so many others. She exemplified gratitude in how she lived.

There are so many pearls of wisdom that she shared with us. It is difficult to pick only a few to share, but there are two favourites of mine that I think relate to the notion of gratitude.  

The first of these is: “I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.” I think the real message to be gotten from this quote is — life is going to hand you tricky stuff — things that make you want to scream! 

Those people who truly triumph are the ones who find grace under pressure, take a deep breathe and remember to be grateful for the things they have. This is the goal. 

I am a realist, though, and when I think about what people could tell about me in any one of those three scenarios, I cringe! Remembering to be grateful for what you do have in the face of those tricky moments is something to strive for, though.

Choose to Triumph

Another one of my favourite quotes from Maya Angelou is: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” I don’t think she was talking about the rainy day or lost luggage here! 

This is the big stuff — the stuff that could flatten you if you let it. Anyone who knows anything about Maya Angelou’s early life can probably imagine where the inspiration for these words came from. 

There are things that happen to us beyond our control which can be all-consuming if we let them. Alternatively though, we can choose to dig deep and focus on the positive aspects of our lives and not allow those events to bring us down. 

It’s much easier to suggest this course of action than to actually follow it, but it is something to work toward.

Practice Gratitude

The practice of gratitude is something that I think is so important in striving for balance. 

Whether it be by keeping a gratitude journal or by showing your gratitude through action, taking the time to reflect and be thankful not only makes us appreciative of all that we have in this life, but it also helps us to be more positive and happy people. Gratitude should form part of our every day lives: it should be part of how we live. 

For most of us, life is busy and chaotic but it is so important to make the time to give thanks each day for all that we have. After all, we only get this one life!

Jennifer Haworth is an associate with MJM Limited’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution team ( She is also a wife and a mother. To send your comments or thoughts, write to Jennifer at