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“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero

I am feeling wonderfully happy and blessed!  It is Christmas, time for family, friends, gratitude, forgiveness and love!

I will spend Christmas alone again, but my heart is so full of gratitude that I feel encircled by love and warmth on this cold rainy evening.  Alone is just a fact and not a feeling! Everywhere I look I see a thank you!

I have so much to be thankful for this year.  My family members are all well and happy!  I don’t need to be next to them to be with them, they are engraved in my heart!  My father is still going strong after winning yet another tough health battle.  We now joke that he has nine lives. Well, actually, I say he has nine lives and my sister says he has 7 lives.  Apparently the world doesn’t agree on how many lives a cat has.  It seems cats in the US live longer than cats in Brazil!  Who knew?

I just remembered that I always say to my mother that she need not worry about me because I am just like a cat.  I may fall, but I always fall on my feet.  Not sure why I thought about that now…I guess I started thinking about the longevity of cats due perhaps because of their ability to withstand adversity.

Moving on,

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” That was supposedly said by Einstein and I agree with it completely.  Well, really, who am I to disagree with Einstein?

I choose to live life as if everything is a miracle. It makes everything better.  Sometimes it takes a little effort.  Things happen, life throws us curve balls. There are big tragedies such as illness, death, financial difficulties, etc. Then there are minor inconveniences such as a late train, you forgetting your umbrella on a rainy day,  somebody raising their voice to you for no reason.  Some days any little thing may have the potential to throw us into a well of self-pity, depression and despair.

Of course the key to everything is not to let people, events, and other things affect us negatively. That is not always possible! But still we have the power to turn negative thoughts and feelings around, and therefore changing our mood and our life.

I normally think I am not mindful of things but I have to say that when it comes to gratitude and appreciation for life I am very mindful. I will catch my mind drifting into ungratefulness and pity and immediately will start reminding myself of all the many ways I am blessed.  I will start enumerating blessings, things such as: 1. My parents are still alive. 2. I am loved by my family and by friends. 3. I have a comfortable and warm bed to sleep on. 4.  I have a great apartment.  5. I have a job that allows me to have a great life.  6.  I am healthy. But the time I get to 5 I am in full gratitude and positive mood.

The key is definitely in how we perceive things.  When you get up in the morning and you choose to be happy and grateful for everything, the Universe listens and returns to you what you are sending into the world. So, not only our actions, but our words and thoughts are very important!

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love—then make that day count!”
Steve Maraboli

I love to smile on days such as today.  It is rainy, cold, my neighbor rudely closes the door on my face, the train is 15 minutes late, people around me are complaining, everything seems to contribute to make this day a bad one.  But instead, days such as this helps me to practice what I preach. A simple smile already sets my mind and body in the right direction.  I am totally aware of the moment and environment.  I am taking everything in, one thing at a time, digesting it and appreciating it.  The cold rain is a pure hit of energy, I feel alive!  The late train teaches me to be grateful for the job I have where I don’t have a schedule.  The people complaining around me helps me in the exercise of sympathy and understanding – I have no right to judge why they feel the way they do, but I can choose not to act like they do.  I try to turn any judgement I have into positive thoughts towards them. I try to give them a warm smile and sympathetic ear.

“God gave you a gift of 86 400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you ” William Arthur Ward

This Christmas I wish everyone more gratitude in their hearts.  There is always more room for gratitude. Lets remember to be thankful for everything around us, the big and the small, the good and the bad.  If we don’t appreciate the small things, we are not deserving of the big things! The bad helps us to be humble, to be understanding, to be simple, to be grateful and to fully appreciate the good when it comes.

This year when I handed the customary envelopes to all the people that provide services for me throughout the year, I made a point of spending an extra few minutes telling them how much I appreciate what they do for me. I cited specific instances where their help was much appreciated.  I don’t know how they felt, but I felt like a million dollars for voicing the feelings in my heart.

“Just an observation: it is impossible to be both grateful and depressed. Those with a grateful mindset tend to see the message in the mess. And even though life may knock them down, the grateful find reasons, if even small ones, to get up.” Steve Maraboli

How about stopping right now and saying a silent prayer of gratitude for everything in your life, or even making a quick mental list of 5 blessings in your life! Gratitude is mood enhancing and empowering! Try it, and then spread it around!