Gratitude Will Take You There

By Sean Thomas - September 30th, 2019

I wake up every morning and the first words that come to mind are “thank you”. The phrase is directed at no object or individual, but rather unto the world around me. No matter what challenges the universe may be creating, this simple expression of gratitude allows me an opportunity to start the day positively.

This habit began after a string of events in 2017. After experiencing various health ailments, I found myself hospitalized for four days. The diagnosis was diabetes and my life was about to change forever. I was bewildered by this news and my lack of health insurance only created a sense of fear that I would succumb to the disease much quicker than most.

On the second night of my stay in that cold and intolerable hospital room, I found myself questioning everything in my life. These thoughts ran from personal decisions such as why I hadn’t begun pursuing a college degree and stretched as far as my belief in God.

Sean Thomas

Current attending Texas A&M University

These rampant thoughts eventually brought me to tears, as I failed to find the answers I was searching for. In my heart, however, I knew that I needed to make drastic changes in my life. But where was I to begin? The lack of any education beyond a high school diploma limited my job opportunities and I felt I had worn myself thin in eight years of work experience by way of both retail work and the food industry.

I worked every type of job you could imagine; from ice cream scooper to various management roles, though all were met with a dead end. My work experience was extensive, but I would be foolish to believe it would give me leverage into a career. The soul search abruptly came to an end, and as I dozed, I dreamt of a future beyond imagination.

When I woke the following day, there was a sense of realization that I was about to embark on a new journey. No longer could I sit idly waiting for the world to hand me a favor; if I wanted something, I had to take it. This was my life, I was ready to take my place in the world and overcome the obstacles and failures that for so long tied me down.

Google was my best friend during these four days in the hospital. Searching high and low for diabetes cures was often met with disappointment and eventually led me on the search for a career that I hoped would quickly turn my misfortune around. I found that career, or so I thought, and the day after leaving the hospital signed up for online course work in the field of real estate.

Though there were plenty of horror stories about the career field, the money signs ran through my mind like a child counting sheep to fall asleep. I felt that this was my big-ticket and began planning for my future of selling homes being the end goal. Until that time, however, I planned to continue working as a server in the restaurant I was currently employed by.

Then another turn for the worse, my fiancée found herself in the hospital and needed surgery. That same weekend, the restaurant abruptly closed down. The new world I was creating for myself began to crumble and with the walls caving in, I began to again crumble with it.

A few days after her release from the hospital, my focus immediately centered on completing my real estate course work. I worked tirelessly for hours a day, reading everything I could to motivate me to push through the exhaustive materials. Then, one day, as I was searching for motivation, I stumbled across a book that would change my life forever.

The book was one I had heard of but gave very little thought to. Titled “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, is a self-help book, one focused on the concept of “ask, and you shall receive”. I couldn’t take the book in the literal sense, but the message written throughout its pages was clear; if I hoped to find happiness in my life, then I must be grateful for the things I already had.

Its message is assuredly misconstrued by many, but I knew to look beyond what the critics and proponents had to say and must create my own ideas from its 198 pages. Messages of living a positive lifestyle and being thankful spoke to me in a way that many books and people, including the Bible, could not. This is not to discredit religion by any means, nor is it to discredit those around me. Simply put, I wanted to find my way without the influence of those who were not living my life.

Within its pages, a contributor to the book by the name of James Ray introduced me to the idea of saying thank you each morning. From there I began researching others who implemented the practices of The Secret. From Oprah Winfrey to Jack Canfield (co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Books), I found that many individuals around the world followed this practice. If successful individuals believed this concept to be beneficial to their success, why wouldn’t I at least give it a shot?

So, I did and in January 2018 I began my college journey at Northwest Vista College. It was a long time coming, but it was the only option I believed could truly change my life. I went on to complete my real estate licensing and practiced for a few months with an incredible local group known as Xsellence Realty, but I still wanted more.

My time with Xsellence was brief, as my school commitments began to outweigh my work commitments. I was involved with Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society on campus as a leadership coach. I involved myself with a group known as Men of Vista Engage, as well as being extremely active in the classroom setting with my peers. Work became secondary as my primary focus was on being a student, a decision I will never regret.

After a year and a half at Northwest Vista, I completed my associate’s degree in business. I applied to one university, a decision many said was foolish, though I was receiving letters from schools across the country. I got to this point on my own decision making, so I ignored the criticism and was eventually accepted to my dream school. 

That school? Texas A&M University, specifically to Mays Business School. This new journey has been challenging at times, but the simple expression of gratitude each morning allows me to realize that no matter the obstacle, I can and will overcome all of them.

I am fearless, I am confident, and I am hopeful; but above all, I am thankful.

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