“Be grateful for what you have.”

Such a simple concept. Yet I’ve always understood it at such an abstract level. Until now.

In the past six months, I’ve moved, started a new job and overall have changed my lifestyle quite a bit. Real talk though, I didn’t (fully) feel the positive effects of all this change until about six weeks ago. I truly feel grateful and peaceful every. d**n. day. And I have Samantha Allen to thank for that.

Sami was a beautiful soul, 29 years young. She battled a rare type of cancer on and off for the past decade. Luckily, she was consistently healthy for years at a time which allowed her to do incredible, superhero style things on this planet.

For example, every single day, no matter how terrible of a day, Sami’s alarm went off at 8PM, prompting her to say something she was grateful for. Sami suffered so much and in a very rapid period of time — losing the ability to swallow, to speak, and ultimately, to walk. Despite each major function that she lost, she still did this gratitude exercise every. day. She still identified something, the simplest thing, that brought her joy at 8pm each night.

Sami lost her battle two months ago, a major loss to so many people. Even for someone like me who knew her distantly, her story was heart wrenching. How could a young, carefree, beautiful, yoga and sun loving girl get as sick as she did? Even moreso, how the h*ll did she handle it all so peacefully??

Gratitude. That’s how.

Sami accepted her circumstances the way they were. That did not mean she felt they were fair. She just understood at a deep level that there are things in this life that we cannot control. So the more we appreciate exactly where we are, exactly how it is, the more peaceful we can feel inside.

By accepting her incredibly unfortunate fate, Samantha turned the the baddest of the bad into the most beautiful experience possible for her family, close friends, and the thousands of strangers who followed her journey. She truly started a movement. She has affected my way of being and that of so many others.

It is super easy to be grateful when you just left a nice dinner with your family. And trying to be grateful when you tack on that extra beach day and call out of work? Done and done. Please, do not stop feeling grateful for these things.

“Try being grateful when you hit your head.” These words, spoken by Sami’s cousin in a eulogy really helped connect the dots for me. When your day is absolute sh*t, say thank you anyway.

When your boss is breathing down your neck, be grateful that your job pays for the apartment that you love to come home to. When you’re freezing your tush off waiting for a cab, be grateful that winter is coming to an end. Be grateful that you rested so much more than you would have if it were summer. And if and when sh*t gets really dark and you’re truly suffering, I promise you can find ONE thing to be grateful for.

I’ve been wanting to write about this ever since Sami passed and I started feeling the impact of the 8PM alarm move. Something that went down this past weekend inspired me to finally get pen to paper.

I was lucky enough to celebrate my beautiful friend’s bachelorette party over the weekend in Scottsdale. I decided to extend my stay to get one more pool day in. My day did not go as planned, like at all. While the sun was at its peak, I was not at the pool. Instead, I was at the police station. I got my wallet stolen at the swanky hotel pool. As in, scary, sketchy dude strolls in and steals my sh*t. I’ll spare you the nitty gritty here because it was v scary, but thankfully, they caught the guy pretty quickly and my wallet was returned.

There are so many what ifs here… What if my lovely bride2be was still there and had to end her magical weekend on such a low? What if they didn’t catch him and I couldn’t get home to NY because my ID was gone? What if he had a gun???

Life is sooooo precious and much bigger than our day-to-day sh*t. But for most of us, that is sooooo hard to remember.

So here’s how to remember: set a daily alarm for 8PM. Label it “gratitude reminder”. As I wrote this last night, my gratitude alarm was buzzing. I felt grateful that I was safe and sound in my apartment and that I have this platform to share my (aka Sami’s) message with you. I hope you feel more and more grateful every day ❤️

Originally published at medium.com