Gratitude: A Sustainable Life Choice

By Denise Westman, Outreach Director

Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy ProgramAfter spending many years working in this industry in a variety of treatment settings, meeting and working with some incredibly talented and gifted people, I am filled with gratitude to be at Pacific Quest.  PQ’s approach to embracing change and sustainable growth not only applies to our students and families, but to staff as well. While I appreciate the journey it took for me to get here, I look back on my life choices  and think about things I wish I knew earlier. Who among us hasn’t said, ” It would have made my life so much easier if I knew then what I know now”. How wonderful for our students to be able to be immersed in a natural setting and given unconditional support and hope while engaging in life changing experiences sooner rather than later…

Here’s my list of things I wish I could turn back the hands of time to tell my younger self. Many will sound familiar but all worth hearing again.

  • You’re stronger than you think you are.
  • Mistakes teach you important lessons. Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal.
  • There is nothing to hold you back except you.
  • You can press forward long after you can’t. It’s a matter of wanting it bad enough.
  • No matter how much progress you make there will always be the people who insist that whatever you’re trying to do is impossible.
  • You are limited only by your own imagination. Let it fly.
  • Perception is reality.
  • Your instincts can be trusted.
  • There is only one question to ask yourself: “What would you do if you were not afraid?”
  • It’s often hard to tell just how close you are to success.
  • The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.
  • Never let success get to your head, and never let failure get to your heart.
  • You have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life.
  • Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
  • Do what you love, not what you think you’re supposed to do.
  • Laughter is the best medicine for stress. Laugh at yourself often.
  • If you want to feel rich, just count all the great things you have that money can’t buy.
  • Forgiving yourself is far more important than getting others to forgive you.
  • If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, you’ll often find that you’re right.
  • Be nice to yourself.
  • For the most part, it doesn’t matter what people think. Follow your own truth.
  • No education is wasted. Drink in as many new experiences as you can.
  • Making one person smile can change the world.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy your journey!
  • You never know how strong you really are until being strong is the only choice you have.
  • Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.
  • You cannot change what you refuse to confront.
  • Crying doesn’t indicate that you’re weak. It doesn’t always solve your problems either.
  • No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.
  • Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.
  • You can learn great things from your mistakes when you aren’t busy denying them.
  • Give up worrying about what others think of you.
  • When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.
  • You have to accept that some things will never be yours, and learn to appreciate the things that are only yours.
  • As Henry Ford put it, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right.”
  • Don’t be afraid to move out of your comfort zone. Some of your best life experiences and opportunities will transpire only after you dare to lose.
  • Giving up doesn’t always mean you’re weak, sometimes it means you are strong enough and smart enough to let go.
  • You’ll rarely be 100% sure it will work. But you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work.
  • Don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future for too long. Right now is life. Live it.
  • No matter how cautiously you choose your words, someone will always twist them around and misinterpret what you say. Just say what you need to say.
  • Not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of good luck.
  • If you are passionate about something, pursue it, no matter what anyone else thinks. That’s how dreams are achieved.
  • If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.
  • What lies before us and behind us are tiny matters when compared to what lies within us.
  • Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.
  • It’s not about getting a chance, it’s about taking a chance.
  • If it were easy everyone would do it.
  • Be vulnerable.
  • A problem is a chance for you to learn.
  • Regardless of the situation, life goes on.

Gratitude comes in many forms and offers us many benefits. Living a grateful life means consciously interacting with your life and mindfully (thank you PQ) honoring the truths of your existence. It’s the practice of recognizing what’s good in life and embracing the joy that comes naturally with gratitude.


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