Stories of Gratitude: Wu Jiezhen
Editor’s Note: In this series, we show our appreciation for the people who have made a significant impact on our lives in a selfless, giving or life-changing way—sometimes even at the expense of themselves. And we wouldn’t be the person we are today, without their tenderness, love, support and compassion.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about gratitude, is that it’s found in the little things.
When I first started working at The Hidden Good in 2014, it wasn’t easy. I had the task of turning this movement into a sustainable community. I was trained in education and community development, but had no production, media or business experience—and my job was to make videos capturing the good happening in the world and make our work sustainable. I felt lost, overwhelmed and confused. I would find myself crying multiple times a week. And even though I was surrounded by so many people who cared, I felt so alone.
It took me a few months, but when I finally took a step back to look at what I was doing, something inside me shifted.
I started to see that even though sometimes I had no idea what I was doing, I could be grateful for the people who believed in me, like my team and board—who were willing to be by my side until we found our way.
I found gratitude in my boyfriend at that time (who is now my husband), for holding me on days when I found it hard to get out of bed, for drying my tears when I cried, and for loving me through it all and believing in me, each step of the way.
I found gratitude in my parents for trusting me to make the right decisions for myself—choosing a less certain path and turning down other more logical and typically “attractive” job opportunities. They supported me even if they didn’t really understand what I was doing—and truth be told, neither did I.
I found gratitude in myself; the willingness to keep going and pushing forth, with a deep-seated belief that I could make the world a little bit brighter and better through the work that I was doing, and through the people I would meet along the way.
I found gratitude in the sunshine on my cheeks, the clean water running from my tap, and in the food that nourished my body every day.
I found gratitude just in the joy of being alive and breathing.
Although it felt like my entire world had turned upside down and I felt completely in over my head, when I took a second to take a step back and breathe, I found gratitude in knowing that I was exactly where I needed to be.
I used to think that gratitude was all about feeling good and celebrating our highs in life. I would ignore all “negative” emotions and conveniently set aside “negative” experiences. But I’ve learned that there is so much value and worth in looking at our more trying and challenging moments, and having a sense of gratitude for the growth that we receive through times of hardships.
Gratitude isn’t just a feeling, it’s a practice. It’s the willingness to be grateful for whatever comes your way, for the highs, the lows, and everything in between. It’s the willingness to look for the good in any situation, even when it’s tough.
Every morning now, I practice a gratitude meditation and think about 3 things I’m grateful for: the state of my health, the people around me, and the life I’m living.
It’s easy to let life pass us by, and to forget about being grateful for the little things. It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of the world, and lose sight of taking stock of the small things that deepen life’s meaning. So I’ve found ways to pepper my days with gratitude, whether it’s in my morning meditation, or ending the day with my husband sharing about the things we’re grateful for. When I choose to live from a place of gratitude, something inherently shifts within me. And I find so much more joy, love, and abundance in my everyday life.
Sometimes we forget that there is good out there, and in our darkest moments, it feels like it does not exist. But when we are able to stand tall even when we feel like we have lost everything, and still look at our lives to say, “I am thankful that I am alive and breathing”—we learn that gratitude isn’t just all fluff, but the bedrock of resilience. In doing so, we can turn our challenges into opportunities, and constraints into possibilities. We become more creative, more innovative, and more alive. It is not about pretending that problems don’t exist in the world, but acknowledging them, and doing something about it. Focus on what we can do, instead of all the things we can’t do—there is a lot of power when we come from a place of strength, instead of weakness; beauty, instead of brokenness.
And perhaps then, we become more appreciative of this little miracle we live in called Singapore, and our very existence, by leading life to the fullest.