365 Days of Gratitude:
10 Year Old Author Muskan Virk Has a Message for the World by Ann Dorn
t six years old, Muskan Virk learned all was not well in the world. Her grandmother had brought home a flyer about an organization working to create awareness about gender inequality. It was written in Punjabi, and the only thing Muskan could read was the date of the event, which fell on her birthday. “I didn’t want to tell her what it was all about – it seemed like a very heavy topic for a six year old,” her mother, Meera Virk, recounts. “But she kept on asking me, and finally she sat me down and demanded I explain it.” Realizing it was important for her 14
daughter to understand, Meera began talking about issues that affect women throughout the developed and undeveloped world–education, healthcare, and other important areas of life. Muskan listened intently. After 20 minutes, she declared, ‘Mom, I’m going to change this. Things have to change,’” Meera says. Muskan’s dawning awareness of issues facing humanity at home and abroad impacted the six year old hard. Over the next few months, she continued to ask questions, but as her understanding grew, something inside her had shifted
toward despair. “She started really looking at the world and asking why,” Meera explains about Muskan’s efforts to examine different areas of inequality and women’s issues. “Something in her heart had shifted to make her look at the world as not a safe place.” While acknowledging the very real challenges that were troubling Muskan, Meera, who is a life coach, also wanted to support her in finding balance and developing a way of looking at the world that would empower Muskan to create change, without costing her joy or peace. “I gave her a journal and a pen, and said, ‘why don’t you start paying attention to what is good in the world?’” Meera says, noting she largely forgot about the journal. Unbeknownst to her, Muskan was writing in it nearly every day. “Being a six year old, you can make anything a game. You can even make homework a game,” Muskan explains.” After a year and a half, I took my journal back to my mom and said mom, you have some reading to do.” “A year later she came to me with a book of 455 gratitudes,” Meera says of the journal in which Muskan wrote about everything she loved about the world. “It changed her perspective and she started seeing so many good things now.” As her mom read through the journal she had written and asked questions, Muskan started to realize how much the conscious practice of being grateful had changed her. She was still deeply interested in making the world a better place, but the knowledge of humanitarian problems was no longer troubling or burdening her in the same way. Meera felt that Muskan’s thoughts about peace and joy deserved to be shared with others. “We decided to make a book and publish it,” Muskan explains. Working together, Meera and Muskan edited down the list of gratitudes until there were 365–one per day for a year. Each gratitude is about various aspects of Muskan’s life, from her thankfulness that she is accepted and loved as a girl in her family to the fog surrounding the mountains visible from her Vancouver,
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