A couple of years ago, I started doing a gratitude challenge on Instagram. In addition to helping me focus on the good parts of each day, when I analysed what I had been grateful for over the month, there were some surprising results.

This year, I decided to do it again. This time, I must admit, I didn’t reflect on my day as much. Because the challenge overlapped with my India holiday, I lost track. I also tended to focus on the prompt and to take pictures to reflect the prompt, because it’s not necessary to stick to the order of the prompts. I think the whole thing was more haphazard this year, but also one thing was evident to me.

I am most grateful for my children. They are a huge source of happiness in my life. Their presence, the charming things they say, the way they enable me to see the world with fresh eyes and push me out of my comfort zone, getting me to do stuff I end up enjoying but that I would otherwise not have tried or been too lazy to actually do.

As a person who was never into kids, this is a huge and unexpected change in my personality and life. It is why I encourage people to have at least one kid, one’s situation allowing for this of course. By this, I don’t mean that I go about evangelizing the need for people to have children, but if someone who is ambivalent asks my opinion on the subject, my answer is usually positive. I agree that I am fortunate to have great help in raising my children, but had that not been the case, I would still advocate having one child, again if one’s general life situation allows for it.

I am sure there are people out there that regret their decision to have kids, and that these narratives need to be told and heard too.

In my case, though, despite the stresses that children put on my body, my finances, my marriage, my lifestyle, my emotional and mental wellbeing, overall, when I do a cost-benefit analysis, the sheer joy, breath of learning and general fun they bring to my life trumps the negatives.

PS: The second thing that I seem most grateful for is my job, the opportunity to do the PhD. The third is probably living in Hong Kong. This is just my overall impression.