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Ode to Gratitude

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"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." ---Oprah Winfrey

You're grateful when you're aware of what you have rather than what you don't. In my opinion, it is key to be mindful as a starting point for gratitude. Without mindfulness, you can't be aware of all the things that are going well in your life. A grateful person is therefore a mindful person. Mindfulness with gratitude gives a sense of being more fully alive. Being grateful for the ordinary things and events in our daily lives contributes in a profound and practical way to our well-being and happiness. Gratitude is learning to appreciate each and every situation, even when it is challenging or not what we had hoped. It is finding the good in things, in the world, and in people. For example, if you get a parking ticket, be grateful you have a car; similarly, if someone is stressed about studying, they can be grateful they can afford an education; if kids are being a little challenging, be grateful they are healthy enough to create the noise and that you are a parent! Cherishing each moment and being mindful of our inner wisdom opens the way for increased blessings and heightened gratitude.

My wish for all of you in the New Year is that you will have things to be proud of and grateful for -- even small things if that is all there is right now. Start every day by thinking of all the things for which you're thankful. Be grateful, even for things as simple as your warm clothing in the winter, a comfortable bed, your pillow and your room. Then add friends and family members and the blessing of a job with enough income to take care of basic necessities!

Expressing gratitude usually increases trust, kindness, and respect in our relationships because it is expressed unconditionally with no thought of receiving appreciation in return. Feeling grateful and expressing our gratitude is "not just an emotional response" to an event or situation. It is truly a committed choice we make in any given context to experience greater wellness and vitality in our lives. As we develop a greater appreciation for the ordinary things and experiences in our lives, we cultivate a profound sense of awe toward Life itself.

Cherishing each moment and acting according to our inner wisdom opens the way for increased blessings and heightened gratitude. At first, we may need a great deal of determination to remain devoted to deliberately looking for things to be grateful for every day, but such a practice is well worth cultivating. Making an effort to focus on gratitude will cause us to reap rewards such as being focused on the positive, enjoying the moment, feeling happy, and realizing goodness and well-being in our lives.

By now you may have already made a few New Year resolutions. I urge you to choose gratitude as one of the virtues you may want to add to your resolutions for 2016. Try practicing gratitude daily for just one week. Each day you mindfully and actively think of five to ten things you're grateful for before going to bed. I know this little exercise can easily be carried on throughout the year and it might turn out to be one of your best resolutions for the New Year!