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11 things I am grateful for

The Promised Land

It was, quite simply, unthinkable. Not even the most paranoid would lie awake at night worrying about it, and yet it happened. A woman stepped into a lift in New York City, as millions of people do every day. Only this time, she got her foot caught in the gap between the lift car and the lobby, and the lift, its doors still open, dragged her up into the shaft. She was crushed to death as two people who had already got in looked on in horror.

It’s the randomness of it that is hard to comprehend. The terrible strangeness. I consult at Y&R, where she worked, and because I first heard about the incident through a mail from the global CEO, she felt more real to me than a woman who might have stepped into another lift in another building. No doubt she had plans for the holidays, worries about work, a life mapped out. She had family and friends who loved her and lived in untroubled expectation that she would be there in the world the next day, and the next, and the next.

And then this.

It’s trite to look upon the death of another and use it to draw some sort of conclusion about one’s own life. But this dreadful news jolted me at least temporarily out of what has felt like an endless round of panic alternating with melancholy and circling back to panic again. It was a reminder of how precious life is, that every moment is to be savoured — even the ones we spend sitting in traffic or stuck in a stuffy boardroom with nothing but Endearments for distraction.

Studies of people who are generally happy suggest that gratitude is an important component of their positive attitude. So here are 11 things I am grateful for.

  1. My family, especially my parents. I love them very much, and without them I would not have survived these past few years.
  2. Those people who have believed in me more than I have believed in myself, and given me opportunities I’d never dare dream of.
  3. People at work who have become good friends, and who remind me what it is to love what I do.
  4. All those good friends who have put up with me – I haven’t been easy to be around.
  5. And yes, all of those people who have hurt me, and disappointed me (which in some ways is worse than being hurt) but taught me something at the same time.
  6. Yesterday today and tomorrow. I can’t wait for it to start flowering again.
  7. Looking out of my bedroom window and seeing green even in the midst of the city.
  8. Evening swims in a heated pool, watching as the pink sky fades to purple and then to black.
  9. Getting to travel to the bush, the place I love most in the world.
  10. Having a sense of humour, even if it deserts me from time to time.
  11. Realising that painting is something I love more than writing.

There are many more, but this is a start. I aim to make a conscious effort to live in a state of gratitude — even when I’m swearing at people who don’t indicate to turn left at traffic circles.

Rest in peace, Suzanne Hart.


  • Sarah Britten

    During the day Sarah Britten is a communication strategist; by night she writes books and blog entries. And sometimes paints. With lipstick. It helps to have insomnia.