Radical Gratitude:

How to Turn Pain into Peace

by Deborah Perdue

My journey to living in gratitude began in 2010. Let me say that up to that time, I was a complainer, griper, and whiner, with absolutely no reason to complain!

I was saved from these wasteful, counterproductive habits when I was given a journal. A Center for Spiritual Living minister told us if we journaled for forty days about five things that we were grateful for, our lives would change exponentially for the better.

I dutifully wrote my gratitude lists. And my life did change! It worked! I started focusing on all the good in life. There is plenty.

Since that shift in my life, I have embraced these practices. Each year, my growth continues, and my gratitude practice expands.

  • Reflecting on thankfulness, every day I write five or ten things I am grateful for.

  • Sharing with others by publishing books about gratitude, sending email reflections, and writing letters of thanks to the universe.

My Personal Experiences of Finding Gratitude in Tough Times

In 2018, Oregon had many devastating wildfires. My husband and I watched in disbelief as it came closer to our home. We watched the fire burning the fields and trees so close to our home. I tried to keep a positive attitude, but it got so close! I love where we live, and the thought of losing our home was terrifying.

On a Saturday afternoon, as I tried to nap, our phones alerted us that we were in Level 3, evacuation time. Get out now.

We took our animals, computer, important papers, some clothes, and left the rest. We were evacuated for six days before we were able to return home—all the houses and neighbors were thankfully safe. Here are my gratitude takeaways.

1.   We were taken in by friends from the CSL where I attend. Alison and Gary made us feel at home, helping me set up my computer at their house so I could work and putting up with us and our messy pets. We all became much closer friends through this experience.

2.   I am grateful for the firefighters and everyone who helped. They are amazing!

3.   The biggest gratitude I have for the wildfire experience is that I was able to surrender and let go of our home. This was the only way to stay sane, and that was a gift. After all, it is love, not possessions, that matters, and I got clearer on that through the experience.

When I was thirty-five, I lost my beautiful mother through cancer when she was only fifty-seven. This was a horrible time in my life. I remember waking up feeling good and then immediately feeling dread and sorrow, when I remembered that Mom would die soon.

One of my gratitude takeaways from that grief-stricken time is that I was Mom’s main caregiver, and that brought me much closer to her in those last nine months. My sisters and I became closer because of that experience, and it was the first time I was introduced to A Course in Miracles, a spiritual set of lessons that changed my life for the better.

My mother had what I called “angels” helping her from the Center for Attitudinal Healing in Tiburon, California, and they studied A Course in Miracles, which prompted me to study it, because they were so giving and inspirational. This was the beginning of my spiritual transformation. I was what I call “dimly lit” before this teaching came into my life.

Before she died, my mother spent time reflecting on what could have caused her cancer. She felt that being a people-pleaser and fearful had prompted the disease. She left me with the message not to be like her, which I am grateful for. I have always remembered that and changed my behavior because of it. Additionally, we had time to say goodbye, and that was a big blessing.

One more example that changed my life incredibly was going through a divorce after twenty-four years. This was a difficult decision. I wasn’t sure if it was right. My ex-husband decided for us. I was heartbroken. So heartbroken that I finally sought out a local CSL, which many people in my life had gently suggested I might attend because they felt I would love it. I did!

From the moment I entered, I got tears in my eyes, seeing all the loving, warm people. As I listened to the talk, I realized even more that this would be my spiritual home the rest of my life.

To my surprise, I am eternally grateful for my divorce. I took the spiritual classes voraciously and became a licensed practitioner.


My transformation has been amazing. I have gone from an extremely shy person to someone who is graced to teach spiritual classes and workshops, helping others transform their lives. I became a published author. I found gratitude so compelling that I was inspired to write several books, with the purpose of sharing the power of thankfulness. I consider myself a spiritual warrior, getting stronger every year, and I know I help others with my consciousness and loving heart.

In each of these cases, some gratitude was easily available, but more came later. It might take time, even many years to find the gratitude, but looking for it definitely helps the healing.

Each of the personal examples I’ve stated helped me evolve into a more compassionate, wise, and loving being. Now it means everything to me to help others to also evolve. As a practitioner, I am looked up to and consciously walk the talk in my life, being a role model, and continually hone my spiritual practice.

I believe that we can find gratitude in the most challenging situations. It might take time, so be patient. Life is about how we respond to it, and we always have a choice. I feel my own life examples show this.

How to Get to a Place of Radical Gratitude

There are several ways that have helped me get to a place of peace through pain. First, there is the Chinese symbol for crisis. It means danger and opportunity. I first heard about this when my mother died. You can ask yourself, Where is the opportunity in this tragedy? What can I learn? There is also a saying in the New Thought movement. When something upsetting happens, say, “This too is good. This too is God. I demand to see the blessing in it!” Then ponder a positive reason for the event.

  • Make a list of what you are grateful for, even if you can’t yet see the bigger picture.

  • Read inspiring stories of others who have found the gratitude in a life-threatening or stressful experience.

  • Journal to acknowledge and process your feelings.

  • Write a letter to your higher self, and ask for understanding about the deeper meanings that you do not yet see.

  • Meditate and ask for meaning to your higher power.

Being radically grateful is not easy, but it’s incredibly worthwhile. Our attitudes truly affect our lives. Living with gratitude is powerful beyond measure.

Deborah Perdue~Author, Spiritual Practitioner & New Age Publisher

Deborah Perdue is the author of several books on Gratitude, available at www.graceofgratitude.com. Sharing the power of gratitude is her passion and calling! She teaches workshops, classes and facilitates retreats. Ms. Perdue is a licensed practitioner for the Center for Spiritual Living in Grants Pass.

At her website www.graceofgratitude.com

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