09/28/2014 07:56 pm ET Updated Nov 28, 2014

Learning to Be a Grateful Parent

One of the attributes I want to pass on to my child is gratitude. I believe gratitude is a practice that if incorporated into our daily routine, will lead to brighter and happier lives. With all the challenges that life presents -- adversity, difficult relationships, stressful jobs, etc. -- it is so important that we learn to focus our attention more on the good things that always surround us, waiting to be noticed. In order to be able to teach my child gratitude, I have to practice it myself. That is easier said than done though.

I am currently seven months pregnant with my first child. From what I've heard, I've had a pretty easy pregnancy. Has it felt easy? No. Has it been the joyous, fulfilling process that I fantasized about? Definitely not. I had dreams of an unspeakable connection with my unborn child, full of love and excitement. I haven't really felt that. What I have felt is a lot of discomfort, pain, emotional ups and downs, stress, loneliness and sleepless nights (just to name a few). I have always wanted a big family, however this experience has made me second guess that.

It's so easy to fall into the negativity that surrounds us. One thing comes down, and all the others seem to pile on. Soon there are so many negative things on top of us that we can't find a way out. But I've learned that gratitude is the way out. Or even better, it's a way to keep out. When time and focus is spent on finding and seeing the positive events, people, and simplicity around us, less time is spent thinking about and being consumed by negativity. I'm getting better at this, it is still not easy and I have to work on it, every day. It takes practice. However, I now know the benefits from practicing gratitude and I'm willing to do the work.

So, no, I haven't felt that dreamy connection with my unborn child, but I am grateful that I was able to get pregnant at 34 years old without complications.

No, I haven't had a good night's sleep in more than three months because of discomfort, pain and constant kicking inside of me, but I'm grateful that I have a healthy baby who is showing his strength and personality already.

And no, I don't have any family geographically close to support me and share this process with, but I'm grateful to have a wonderful, supportive husband who helps me as much as he possibly can.

Whether it is pregnancy, relationships, family or work, we all have our struggles that can easily lead us through a dark time. Let's practice gratitude so we can enjoy life more - and pass it on to our friends, family, and especially our children.

We'd love to hear how gratitude has helped you! Please share your story or questions below, or visit to read more.

Karem Ensley is the author and illustrator of I Am Grateful.