Thrive Global is partnering with Crest to talk about the power of gratitude, and the impact of making gratitude part of your daily routine — just like brushing your teeth. Maria Sierra, who makes food and lifestyle videos that reflect her Latinx heritage, spoke with us about teaching gratitude to her daughter, not taking herself too seriously, and what makes her smile.

I have a baby girl, Isabel, who is 18 months old, and of course she is the thing I am most grateful for in this world. My husband and I are already trying to teach her about gratitude, and making it part of her — and our — everyday routines, like brushing her teeth. Another routine we have is that we pray with her every night. She puts her hands together and we give thanks for all the good things that have happened that day: “Hey, God, thank you for Daddy. Thank you for Mommy. Thank you for the people that we played with today at the park.” We even say thanks for silly things like, “Thank you for that dog that we saw.” We want to make it a habit for her to remember the day in that way. We also, my husband and I, say our own prayers before going to bed, and we always start by saying something we are grateful for about that day. 

So gratitude in the form of prayer is something that has been part of my life since I could talk or speak because I was raised in the Catholic Church. It’s very helpful for me to see all the blessings that we have in that light. I think I also feel a strong sense of gratitude because I was born and raised in Honduras, one of the poorest countries in Latin America. When I was younger I would go to volunteer in camps and in villages and what I saw — very sad, precarious conditions — gave me some perspective about life. That experience taught me to notice and be grateful for all of the amazing things and people and opportunities in my life. 

For example, with my career, making YouTube videos could have easily remained a hobby. I loved connecting with people through this newly found passion of creating videos and online content surrounding food. But we paid attention to the positive feedback we were getting and decided to nurture this idea that we were so grateful for. Three years ago we devoted ourselves to LaCooquette full-time, and it’s been nonstop since then. 

I take our work seriously, but I try not to take myself too seriously, and that’s what keeps it fun and takes the pressure off. If I take a photo and I’m cracking up, or I’m doing something weird with my eyes, that is OK. That’s who I am. I’m a little weird, and I like that. With me, what you see is what you get. If something isn’t “perfect,” that’s fine, because I want people to see that this is the real thing. 

The picture I used for the #ISmileBecause challenge is, of course, my Isabelita. She makes me smile every day. It’s crazy how this kid can bring so much life to even the dullest of moments and the saddest of times. She has this effect on strangers too — just an amazing ability to make people happy. I’m thankful that I get to watch her spread joy everywhere she goes. It’s pretty special.