In Gratitude

12/12/2014 05:04pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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by guest blogger "Coach" Mark Smallwood, Rodale Institute executive director

Every day, when I get dressed, I put on something green. It's a joke around the office that, if anyone sees me without green, I'll give him or her $100. Thus far, I've never had to make a payout. I have a lot more green items of clothing than $100 bills.

Green is my trigger. During this busy holiday season, it's easy to forget to show gratitude and appreciation for the many blessings that surround us, and so, my challenge to you is to create your own trigger.

For me, wearing green helps me remember the importance of gratitude.

Every morning, my trigger reminds me to thank all of the animals and all of the plants that came before us, because that's why we're here now.

I'm also grateful that, each day, I'm able to come to work at the Rodale Institute's 333-acre organic farm and change the way that the world thinks about soil, food, and health.

I am grateful for the animals that we share in our holiday feast. I'm grateful for the farmers who raised these animals, taking care to ensure that they were raised organically and humanely.

I'm grateful for the organic farmers who manage soil with care, farming with healthy soil microbiology in mind.

I'm grateful for the honeybees and other pollinators that play an essential role in providing a bountiful harvest of fruits and vegetables.

I'm grateful for all the green plants, which draw down carbon from the atmosphere, helping us to mitigate climate change.

I'm grateful for the team at the Rodale Institute, whose members work hard to make sure that we're conducting important, independent research on agriculture--and sharing it with farmers, scientists, and consumers throughout the world.

Green is my trigger. What's yours? That's my challenge to you. How will you remind yourself each day to be grateful? How do you thank all the plants and animals that provided for your holiday and your every day?

As you look to the New Year, I encourage you to develop your own trigger that reminds you to be grateful; it should help you remember the importance of thankfulness every day. It could be anything--a word, a color, a movement. The important thing is that it leads you to gratitude.

I wish you a happy holiday season, and I thank you for taking the time to read my words throughout this year. I am so happy to share my voice and my ideas with you. For that, too, I am grateful.

"Coach" Mark Smallwood has been dedicated to environmental sustainability, efficiency, and conservation for decades. Since joining Rodale Institute in December 2010, he has brought heritage livestock back to the institute's 333-acre farm; expanded and enhanced its research efforts; and launched Your 2 Cents, a national campaign to support and promote new organic farmers. In recognition of his sustainability efforts, Coach was chosen as a messenger for Al Gore's Climate Project, presenting to more than 15,000 people on the effects of global warming. Last, but certainly not least, as a longtime organic farmer and biodynamic gardener, Coach has raised chickens, goats, sheep, and pigs and driven a team of oxen.

For more from Maria Rodale, visit