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13 successful women share what they're most grateful for – and it's not what you'd expect

From rejection to hitting rock bottom, gratitude can be felt for a huge variety of reasons 

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Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
Updated: March 6, 2024
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If you regularly write a gratitude list to remind yourself of the good things in your life, the same points likely come up on a weekly basis – your family, good health and the little luxuries in life.

Ahead of International Women's Day, we wanted to know what the most successful women we know are most grateful for – and their answers were not what we were expecting.

Rather than their stellar careers and glittering achievements, the women we spoke to, from brand founders to TV stars and doctors, gave deep insight into their gratitude list – and left us feeling seriously inspired.

Read on for what these inspiring women are most grateful for

1. Brogan Garrit-Smith, podcaster: Rejection

woman in jeans and a white shirt using microphone
Brogan Garrit-Smith

"As a mother, I feel I should be most grateful for my son. Without a doubt, I am beyond grateful that I have a healthy, happy little boy and he's up there on my gratitude list, but surprisingly, he's not the thing I am most grateful for in life.

"Instead, I'm most thankful for every rejection I've ever faced. In those moments of rejection, I faced redirection and as a result, I've been able to find my purpose.

"Through rejection, I've been able to grow and find the things that are meant for me. We often see rejection as the end of the road. But, if we manage to shift our mindset and become grateful for the lesson in it, we can find out who we truly are and what is meant for us.

READ: How to practice gratitude for a happier life: an expert's guide 

"Not everything you want is meant for you and that can be really difficult to understand. But when we accept that something much larger than us is at play and guiding us and working with us, I believe life can become easier.

"When I look back on every rejection or failure in my life, it's with hindsight that I can see that those things or people or places or jobs or accolades weren't meant for me. And it's all of those redirections that have brought me to where I am today."

 Listen to Brogan's podcast, Getting There, on Spotify

READ: How gratitude created a sense of hope amid addiction 

2. Kelly Saynor, aesthetic nurse: Being adopted


Woman wearing black on a navy seat
Kelly Saynor

"The thing I am most grateful for is being adopted at the age of four months from a children's home in Jamaica. I struck gold that day as I was lucky enough to be adopted by the most wonderful parents anyone could wish for.

"They gave me an amazing life, filled with love and opportunities and still support me with every endeavour in life.

"Not wanting me to be an only child, they decided to adopt a sibling for me who had come from a similar background. I was then blessed with a wonderful sister who has been my best friend throughout my life.

"Having the support of a loving family meant that I have had an amazing career which I have been able to sustain whilst becoming a mother to my beautiful children, Ollie and Cole, who inspire me every day."

Kelly is the owner of Renew Aesthetics, a clinic offering The Perfect Peel treatment.

3. Nadia Alibhai, osteopath: Being present

Woman in black jumpsuit© Michael Stuart-Daley
Nadia Alibhai

"As a mother to my two little girls, I’m super grateful that they remind me to be present in life. Sometimes we get carried away looking into the next year or what is in your 10-year plan, but since having my girls, I find that they ground me and bring me into the present moment.

MORE FROM NADIA: I spend all day listening to others offload – here's how I unwind 

"I also feel grateful when I find time to be alone and reconnect with myself. It helps me recalculate and have a moment to meditate. During those times, I take a moment to refill my cup and recharge my battery."

 Find out more about Nadia's osteopathy work.

4. Liz Joy Hardie, MoreYoga's Head of Wellness: Hitting Rock Bottom

Woman sitting with her legs crossed on the floor
Liz Joy Hardie

"In my twenties I was signed off work with an anxiety disorder. I was told if I didn't make some drastic changes, I could have a stroke before I turned 30. It forced me to change my life and I retrained as a yoga teacher.

"I often think if I hadn't hit rock bottom, I never would have moved on to live my happiest life, so I'm grateful for my lowest point. The most important thing hitting rock bottom taught was to look for the little things that you often forget about.

"It's helped me to appreciate all the things in my life that didn't turn out how I'd planned. Now (with the power of hindsight) I'm genuinely grateful for being signed off work because it led me to a completely new career that gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment."

Find out more about MoreYoga.

5. Leila Martyn, founder of MyOva: My difficult journey

Woman sitting on the ground in jeans against pretty tiles
Leila Martyn

"Due to having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) I had a difficult journey to motherhood, going through six miscarriages in five years, and if you'd told me that one day I would be grateful for what was happening to me, I probably would have slapped you in the face. But looking back, I wouldn’t change any of it.

"My struggles with PCOS led me to create my supplement brand, MyOva, to help other women and would never have happened had I not been through multiple baby losses. I’m grateful that this new purpose has reassured me that what I went through was meant as part of my journey.

MORE FROM LEILA: I'm a recovering pessimist – here's how I turned my life around 

"I wish that when I was struggling with fertility, I knew about the transformative power of gratitude. It's easy to be thankful when everything's going well, but you have to dig deep when things aren't. But this is where the magic happens. Life isn't linear and the best advice I've ever had is to lean on gratitude when things don't go according to plan."

Find out more about MyOva.

6. Hollie Grant, Pilates teacher: My mum's support

Woman in a pink top against a pink wall
Hollie Grant

"Growing up, my mum always told me that when it came to my career, I could be and do whatever I wanted if it made me happy. She openly admitted that she had never really loved her career and that there were so many jobs she wished she had pursued and it really stuck with me.

"She never pushed me towards a particular career, or hinted at high-paying roles, and I always knew that she would have my back no matter what career I chose.

"I trained as a chocolatier, but the role left me depressed and burned out. I realised my career in the field was over as I had to put my happiness and mental health and I am so grateful that my mum drilled that into me, as it led me to carve out a career in Pilates, which I love."

Find out more about Hollie's Pilates book The Bump Plan.

7. Valeria Levy, founder of Da Lapa: Life's challenges 

Woman smiling in a grey top
Valeria Levy

"I've found myself grateful for the challenges in my life, including living in London, eleven hours away from my family in Brazil. It has brought unexpected closeness to our relationships.

"Despite the physical distance, we've learned to cherish our time together even more and we really appreciate our reunions and the time we get to spend together.

"In my household, we've made it a ritual to gather around the table once a week and share what we're thankful for. It's a practice that helps us maintain perspective and focus on the abundance in our lives, rather than dwelling on perceived shortcomings."

Find out more about Valeria's brand, Da Lapa.

8. Dr Ivy, aesthetic doctor: Freedom and simple pleasures

Woman smiling in smart clothes
Dr. Ivy

“Every morning when I wake up, I see my twin boys’ smiles and I feel grateful to be their mother. I work a lot, but they are understanding, supportive and proud of my accomplishments, since they know I do this for us.

"Other things I feel gratitude for include beautiful London days, the freedom we have in this country that so many others go without and spring coming around the corner, which is my favourite time of the year in London."

 Visit Dr. Ivy at 111 Harley St.

9. Emma Hine, business strategist: Having the courage to walk away

Woman in yellow jumpsuit © AKP Branding Stories
Emma Hine

"Rewind a few years and I was running a business with a £1 million annual revenue. I had a big house, a fast car, holidays were in abundance and externally life looked pretty good. But today, the thing I am most grateful for is the fact that my life no longer looks like that.

 READ: 13 of the busiest women we know share what makes them happy – and it's not what you'd expect! 

"I grew a business that took over my life completely and choosing to walk away and start again has been the best decision I ever made. All I ever wanted was to be happy, yet I was so busy building my business, I lost sight of that.

"What truly matters to me is my family and I am so grateful I now have a life that enables me to spend quality time with them whilst building a business I love."

 Find out how to work with Emma Hine.

10. Sherrille Riley, Beauty Edit founder: Good health

Woman in white off the shoulder top and green skirt
Sherrille Riley

"I am most grateful for my good health because it allows me to pursue personal growth every single day, allowing great freedom.

"I am also full of gratitude for my dear husband, who has been my closest friend and life partner for over two decades. His presence is a constant source of love, strength and friendship.

 MORE FROM SHERRILLE: My endometriosis was so bad I couldn't function – here's what helped 

 "When I struggle to feel grateful I keep in mind that every experience presents an opportunity for personal growth and understanding, both of myself and others. To uplift my spirits, I like listening to inspiring gospel music. Often this music tells stories of life's traumas, but this music also carries a message of faith and hope, delivering reassurance in times of uncertainty."

11. Michele Scott-Lynch, Founder of Boucléme: The small things in life

Michele Scott-Lynch in an orange dress on a chair© Emma Croman
Michele Scott-Lynch

"The last six months have been tough running a business and trying to be the best mum I can be for my teenage daughters, so gratitude is something I chose to focus on in 2024.

"Writing a daily gratitude journal has helped foster a more positive mindset and is essential on the days when I'm struggling or feeling overwhelmed, the most amazing thing I found is finding gratitude for the small things in life.

"It could be the weather, a conversation with a friend, achieving a work goal or simply having a home I feel safe in. I'm also grateful for the amazing people in my life, from my supportive husband, challenging and inspiring daughters to my wonderful friends. They bring joy and love into my life and that is everything to me."

12. Amy Peterson, medical aesthetician: Inner strength

Amy Peterson in a white shirt looking serious                       © Tato Gomez
Amy Peterson

!What I am most grateful for in life will forever be my husband and our two sons, but in business, I am most grateful for the inner work I've dedicated to myself, which has built an unparalleled strength within me. 

"When I think about the key trait in life that has shaped me, resilience has been the foundation. The moments that I am most grateful for are those that have taught me true resilience, proving time and again that grit builds character. 

I am thankful for the determination needed to overcome life's challenges.  My husband, my mother, my sister, my closest friends and my team are all  instrumental in supporting me and reminding me of my strengths on the days I need it most. 

"Ultimately, inner strength and a positive mindset reminds me that these feelings are temporary and that I have the tools and the community to help me rise above them."

Find out more about Amy's Miami clinic, Skincare by Amy Peterson medspa.

13. Michelle Feeney, founder of Floral Street: My sense of self 

lady in yellow pant suit
Michelle Feeney

"I am most grateful for my sense of self that enables me to stand steady with my actions and decisions no matter how difficult they may be. 

"Some would label it 'self-esteem' but sense of self is different and involves conscience. Since my first memories in life, I have been able to process my surroundings and those people around me and consciously see who I am within that situation and how I want to act.  

"I am grateful to my parents and extended family for recognising who I am and not trying to change that, instead giving me the strength to be more myself. Now in my sixth decade, I am grateful to be able to help my own two children grow and thrive to be the people they need to be rather than the people I want them to be."

Find out more about Floral Street

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