Gracias, Alegria, Esperanza

When you want more out of life, stop carrying around the baggage, pain and regret and give thanks, be joyful and create miracles

By Laura De Anda
Published on LatinoLA: April 18, 2006

Gracias, Alegria, Esperanza

Three of the most beautiful words in the Spanish language filled my heart at the Cathedral of our Lady of Angels recently: Gracias, Alegria, Esperanza.

From this simple message I want to share with you and the first is this: in ALL circumstances, give thanks. Gracias.

Have an attitude of gratitude for all the little things and big things in your life, the good, the bad, the ugly, this all makes up your wonderful, incredible life.

Let me ask you something: when was the last time you counted your blessings? Was it Thanksgiving? How about this morning, like I did? I'm blessed to have a loving family, wonderful friends, amazing business partners and fabulous colleagues.

It means being appreciative for what you have. I remember going to a SuperBowl party a few years ago at a friend of a friends'. It was held at a mansion in a gated community in Beverly Hills and the owner, a high-level entertainment executive, was one of the grimmest people there. He was surrounded by riches and friends, but he seemed utterly miserable. In short, he wasn't thankful for what he had. What happens when you're unappreciative for what you have? You have spouses who look for rhinestones when they have diamonds at home. Things look greener on the other side.

I invite you to start a gratitude journal and see how it feels. Today, I happened to catch an interview on "Oprah" with Oscar de la Renta. He said that every morning he says, "God, thank you." He's appreciative for all the gifts in his life and that's why his life is so abundant. Now take heed: giving thanks also goes for the ugly stuff, too. It takes practice, but it's worth asking yourself, what can I learn from this? Remember that horrible relationship you had? You learned something about yourself and what to avoid in the future. And consider the causes that were started from injustices in our country.

The second message is this: Be joyful. Alegria. In my book, this is the key to life. Joy is different from happy, which is temporary. Joyful is a state of mind and emanates from within.

When you wake up in the morning, do you say, "God, it's a beautiful day! I'm alive and I'm ready to take on the day. I'm gonna create some magic, stretch and expand myself!" Or do you hit the snooze button? Life is made up of energy. Ask yourself this: Are you creating it or zapping it from others?

I'll share with you a story from my own life when there was a time when I was unable to feel joy or happiness. In the winter of 2001, mortality hit too close for comfort. I lost my dear maternal grandmother to cancer and we were also struck by terrorists in our own backyard. I'm sure some of you have dealt with death in your family and I don't know how you handled it. How I handled it was by asking myself disempowering questions: Why her? Why did He have to take such a saint? I turned the sadness inward. But now, I intend to honor her in how I live, to make her and my grandfather, who passed away this summer proud of me.

Life was meant to be lived with joy. Kids are naturally playful, naturally joyful. That is our natural state, it's when we "grow up" that some people choose to drag the baggage with them and live in an unnatural state of suffering. I was guilty of that. Nobody wants to be around a disillusioned person. Try joy and see the magic happen around you.

Which brings me to my third message, which is this: Always look forward to something new. Esperanza.

Cesar Chavez had it. Ghandi had it. Martin Luther King had it. So did Mother Theresa. Hope. Without it, without a purpose, something bigger than yourself our lives would last 75, 85, 95 years rather than a LEGACY. Without it, people who retire without a plan die not too long after leaving their job because they tied up their sole existence to their job rather then creating a life and a destiny.

Hope builds up communities, it builds up families, it builds up corporations, it builds up nations. What new things are you looking forward to this year? I invite you to be in a state of positive expectancy. Expect MIRACLES in your life.

After all, you are a miracle, aren't you? Think about it... if your dad went left, and your mom went right, you wouldn't be here today, would you? There's no one exactly as you, each of you is unique, special, wonderful with your own special talents and abilities. Know it in your heart that you're an incredible being, and share yourself with the world. I challenge you to make a difference in your family, your business, your community. Find your purpose, your passion and LIVE it.

Gracias, Alegria, Esperanza. Let those three words be the words you live by to create a legacy and miracles in your lives.

About Laura De Anda:
Laura De Anda is vp of pr for Voces Latinas Toastmasters (http://voceslatinas.freetoasthost.com). This is part of a speech she delivered and invites others to visit the club. She is also a recruiter and field trainer for Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc.

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