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Living life with an Attitude of Gratitude




Dear Lord,

Today with your grace, I will not worry

today with your help, I will not be angry

today, with your guidance, I will work honestly

today, with your love, I will be kind to all

today I will count my blessings

and express gratitude to You for all the things in my life

Om Sri Sathya Sai Ram Namaha


When I was asked to jot down some thoughts about what gratitude means in my life, I had no hesitation is answering in the affirmative, because I feel not enough gratitude is expressed in our current often challenging times. The above prayer is my way of expressing my gratitude for the day ahead. At the end of the day, I simply thank Swami for being with me on my journey that day.


So what exactly is gratitude? The Oxford dictionary defines gratitude as:

“The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness ”


I would personally add:

“to give thanks and appreciation for opportunities in life, both positive and negative, to experience and grow strength of character; to develop a sense of equanimity about events rather than expressing either strongly positive or negative attachment to them”

In these troubled times, it is easy to focus on the negative and the darkness. To me, expressing gratitude is like turning on the light. To acknowledge possibilities and seek the goodness surrounding us all.


Being asked to share my thoughts caused me to reflect on the last 70 or so years and remember all the graces I have been blessed with throughout my life thus far. Sounds like my life must have been pretty cushy and comfortable, perhaps? Obviously, not so.

I’m going to share a little of my family history and hopefully this might touch you, it might serve to inspire you. From an early age I believed I lived in a family which was very lacking in love, or at least obvious displays of it. I came from a broken home at a time when that wasn’t very common.


From the age of 4, I seriously and genuinely believed that I had been abandoned by my mother and was hated by my father. The consequences of this were that my family life was one of a series of physical and emotional abuses. I must confess that despite these parental shortcomings, I was very close to my brother and sisters and I often found myself, whilst even very young, between my aggressive father and my sisters, which resulted in a number of occasions of me being physically knocked unconscious by my father and on one occasion being hospitalised. I didn’t understand why this was my lot in life because my father was also the town Father Christmas and everybody else but our family saw him as a loving, kind and generous man. Hardly a strong basis for gratitude. So what changed?


When I was one day short of my 14th birthday, I seriously was wondering what was my life about? I contemplated doing away with myself on my birthday. As I lay in my bed mentally rehearsing what I was going to do, a figure in white with an enormous halo of hair appeared in my room. I hid under the covers, I closed my eyes, I tried to look away. This figure simply would not disappear. He came up to me, stood at the side of the bed, physically touched me and said everything would be alright. I felt infinite bliss and peace. It was like a vision of an angel. From that time, the beatings did not stop, but my attitude and perception changed, obviously by the Grace of Swami entering my life at that time (which He confirmed directly to me in my very first darshan in Prashanti Nilyam some 30 years later) because I developed the ability to stand outside of my body and witness what was happening with a sense of complete detachment.


That was 57 years ago. How could one not be grateful for such a gift? These were the foundation stones for my life, as through Swami’s grace and guidance (of which I was initially unaware but have been conscious of since 1980), I became first a teacher, then a counsellor/ therapist based on positive psychology for many hundreds of troubled students over a professional life spanning 44 years. So what are some of the points for which I truly express my gratitude?


Let me share a few things I am grateful for:

  • saving me from my own egoist self

  • the opportunities to practise resilience and perseverance in overcoming the many challenges of my life, both early and throughout my professional and married life

  • the gift of forgiveness towards all of those who made my life painful and so challenging

  • the gift of compassionate detachment to deal with life’s traumas, both my own and others

  • a life-long partner who truly lead me towards a spiritual path and introduced me to Swami’s teachings, particularly EHV and his Ceiling on Desires Program

  • the gift of His close darshan and personal interactions on many occasions in Puttaparthi

  • 2 healthy sons who grew into EHV based adults and passed those values onto their children, my 6 beloved grandchildren

  • opportunities to introduce EHV to all the students I engaged with in my classes in both state and Catholic schools

  • personal guidance from Swami through dreams and visions to deal with many, many confronting and difficult circumstances, with a sense that I truly was but His instrument

  • close personal relationships with prominent devotees of Swami, who have all written books about Swami which have been essential reading for his millions of devotees

  • His direct intervention in saving the lives at various times of my sons and my wife, as well as myself

So what is it that I am most grateful for?


It is that He made Himself and His mission apparent to me, both through my beloved wife, Lorraine, and directly: that He chose me to be His instrument in spreading His message and showers me with His unceasing love and support in those endeavours.

And what a simple message,

Love all, serve all: Help ever, hurt never.


I have no doubt that you all have your own experiences for which you too can express your gratitude. I strongly urge you to do so.


In Swami’s Love and Grace


In humble surrender and with loving gratitude


Kevin Francis


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