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What is the fuel of your life? What keeps you going? Irina Lazar can describe her fuel in one word: appreciation.

In Living Life as a Thank You (by Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons), Lazar tells about a life-changing moment she had when she was 15 years old and standing in her closet, looking for something to wear:

“’I had a difficult childhood, not because of abuse or neglect, just a hopelessness that followed me around like a little dark cloud…I couldn’t tell you the source of that sadness. But as I was standing in my closet, I had a moment when I suddenly felt the veil of sadness lift off of me. I felt that I could do and be anything I wanted. I felt empowered, confident, and most of all, happy…My life opened up, I felt alive and ready to take on any opportunity.”

Seventeen years later, when Irina was in her thirties, she reflected on how that realization had come to affect her life.

I feel appreciation in my cells every minute of every day. It is the fuel that pulsates through me, driving me to enjoy everything in life, even mundane things like washing dishes, paying bills, and running errands.’”

I was touched and encouraged by that story.

Whether you’ve had such a realization—or whether you haven’t—I think we can all relate to the importance of learning to appreciate life as it is…to appreciate each breath or moment when there might not have been a breath or a moment.

For Irina, all the problems of life were still there. Her circumstances hadn’t changed. The people around her hadn’t changed. The world hadn’t changed.

The only thing that changed was the lens through which she now viewed herself and her one-and-only life…the lens of appreciation.

 And my, what a change! And what a fuel source to tap into when we feel like we’re “running on empty.”