Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.
— Kahlil Gibran

Thanksgiving is almost here. And though you might be looking forward to visiting family and eating a sumptuous dinner, holiday events can be stressful. Anxiety can trigger hormones that flood your body with powerful, sometimes harmful, hormones, keeping your brain on high alert and ramping up your heartbeat.

Well, that doesn’t sound like something to feel grateful about, does it? Let’s begin again…

There is another emotional route you can choose this Thanksgiving, something I call intentional gratitude. Recent neuro-science reveals that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude. Like happiness, gratitude doesn’t occur by itself, we must consciously choose it. And Thanksgiving is the perfect time to make that choice. As we mindfully focus our attention and intention on all that we have to be grateful for, we increase our well-being. Further, feeling grateful and expressing it to others increases our energy, positivism and empathy. In addition to experiencing more positive energy, studies show that those around you benefit just as much. That “pleasurable-glow” you feel throughout your body radiates an electromagnetic field touching those you encounter. The heart emits an electromagnetic field that extends several feet from our bodies and is approximately 60 times stronger than the energy emitted by the brain!

Could gratitude be the most important factor in relationships? Perhaps. The University of California-Berkeley published research that nails the power of gratitude in romantic relationships. Check this out: People who feel appreciated by their romantic partners are more likely to reciprocate appreciation and are more responsive to their partners’ feelings, needs and desires. And the real kicker is that those partnerships oozing with gratitude are more committed and more likely to sustain long-term intimate relationships.

Set your intention to experience the countless benefits of gratitude by trying these easy and quick practices:

1. Imagine the face of someone you love deeply, a partner, child, parent or beloved pet.gratitude-happiness-2
2. Think back to the last time you felt truly appreciated and savor the experience.
3. Notice everything—big and small—that you feel grateful for, don’t skimp. This is the art of cultivating radical gratitude which can lead to on-going happiness.
4. Tell someone “thank you” or “I appreciate you being in my life,” today, tomorrow, the next day and so on—keep going!

These practices sound almost too easy to be effective, but in reality, they have the power to open our hearts and the hearts of everyone we encounter. Gratitude is rewarding. Gratitude feels good. Gratitude boosts our mood whether we are the giver or the receiver. Place your intention on all that you feel grateful for, then watch how gratitude activates the pleasure-pathway in the brain and floods your body with all kinds of amazing, positive feelings.

Thank-you, from the bottom of my heart, for reading this blog and spreading good vibes. Happy Thanksgiving!


Gratitude: The 8th Wonder of the World

Gratitude: The 8th Wonder of the World


“Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.”
— Kahlil Gibran

Feeling gratitude toward all that we have and all that we are leads to a gracious heart. Being gracious toward others and ourselves speaks of a rich spirit, abundant mind, and inner power that can heal relationships and create inner peace that extends throughout the world. Being expansive validates our worth and reminds us that we deserve to experience all that our heart desires.

Further, gratitude—versus judgment—allows us to forgive ourselves and others for past mistakes. Healing and awakening requires forgiveness. Without forgiveness we end up distorted with guilt. Forgiveness gently connects to us our deepest self — love — and the love within another. It inspires us to relish all the wonderful aspects of our life, which in turn, allows more love to pour forth, creating a consistent wellspring of balance, happiness and peace.

As we enter into the time of thanksgiving, let us be reminded to give thanks for all of the love we have received as well as the love we have given. I’m reminded of a story I once read involving a group of geography students who were studying the Seven Wonders of the World. At the end of the lesson, the students were asked to list what they considered to be the Seven Wonders of the World. Though there was some disagreement, the following got the most votes:

1. Egypt’s Great Pyramids, 2. Taj Mahal, 3. Grand Canyon, 4. Panama Canal, 5. Empire State Building, 6. St. Peter’s Basilica, 7. China’s Great Wall.

While gathering the votes, the teacher noted that one student, a quiet girl, hadn’t turned in her paper yet. She asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list.

The quiet girl replied, “Yes, a little. I couldn’t quite make up my mind because there were so many.”

The teacher said, “Well, tell us what you have, and maybe we can help.” The girl hesitated, then read, “I think the Seven Wonders of the World are: 1. To touch, 2. To taste, 3. To see, 4. To hear.” She hesitated a little, and then said: “5. To run, 6. To laugh, and 7. To love.”

As I read about the suffering that super typhoon Haiyan has caused, I’m reminded that we can be another “wonder of the world” right now. Reaching out with love to comfort the countless victims in the Philippines is a wonderful thing, every bit as much as nature’s wonders. And as we join our minds and appreciate our lives, we become miracle workers capable of creating wondrous results.

May your gratitude-filled heart be reminded today of those things which are truly wondrous.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Gratitude: A State of Grace

If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘thank you’, that would suffice. — Meister Eckhart

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. November is a special time to dig deep within our hearts and express gratitude for all the blessings in our lives. To be grateful is to accept the “Great Fullness.” The more we are grateful, the more we have to be grateful for.

Recent research has shown gratitude to:

  • Relieve Stress (and keep in mind that stress is the number one cause of illness in our culture)
  • Boost the Immune System
  • Increase Alertness, Enthusiasm, Optimism, and Energy
  • Reduce Depression
  • Improve Overall Health and Well-Being
  • Increase Spiritual Awareness, Regardless of “Religion”
  • Enhance Sleep Quality
  • Improve the Quality of Relationships

And, the really good news is that further research has shown that it only takes 60 seconds a day for gratitude to improve our lives.

Despite my belief in the power of gratitude, unfortunately, there are days I neglect to express it. Needless to say, those are not my best days. Yet the days I do take a few minutes to express my gratitude, no matter what happens, I feel more content, peaceful and optimistic.

I am blessed to have a gratitude teacher (she doesn’t know she’s my teacher). Most mornings, I begin my day along the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean. While sitting on the sand, I watch my teacher as she and her yellow lab move down the beach. They move very, very slowly. The woman appears to have had a stroke. Yet every day she rides her electric wheelchair down to the beach, while carefully holding onto the leash of her beloved dog. Then, with great effort, she lifts herself out of the wheelchair and forces herself to take one itty-bitty step at a time. It sometimes takes her an hour just to walk a few yards.

One particularly dreary morning, which matched my mood, I began observing my gratitude teacher walking with her dog. I watched closely as the woman made a herculean effort down the sand. Her dog, unlike most dogs that sprint and chase after the gulls, waited ever so patiently as the woman painstakingly took baby-steps. About thirty minutes later, noticing they had only covered a few feet, I realized I had never witnessed such loving patience. My heart swelled with profound gratitude for the dog’s love for his owner and for the woman’s persistence and tenacity. Suddenly there wasn’t room in my heart for both gratitude and gloom. Something had to give. So I took out my phone and snapped a photo of the amazing couple. Although they were hard to see from where I was sitting, their silhouettes stood proud and strong. To this day, the picture reminds me that gratitude is all encompassing and is a state of grace.

Here are some ways to allow gratitude to become a state of grace:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal. I know you’ve heard this advice before, but it really does work. At the beginning of each day, write down 3-5 things you are grateful for. Then “book end” the day by writing 3-5 things you are thankful for from that same day. Simplicity is key; your baby’s smile, a gentle breeze, a colorful sunset or your best friend’s laughter. Relish the feeling you get when remembering and writing it down.
  2. Express your gratitude. Take the time to share your feelings. Not the simple, polite “thank you,” but the heartfelt emotions. Tell your friend how her support and sense of humor helps you get through tough times, how much it means to you. Don’t take your loved ones for granted. Let them know how much you love them and why.
  3. Look for what is right about a situation, not what’s wrong. You may be frustrated by your spouse’s clothes on the floor, but thankfully you have a lot of love in your life. The environment is being over developed at alarming rates, but there is still beauty in every living tree, flower and bird.
  4. Practice gratitude with your family and friends. At dinner, encourage each family member to report one thing that happened that day, something they feel grateful for. Send a “gratitude text” to a friend, and while you’re at it, send one to yourself—writing what you appreciate about yourself will give you an immediate and positive boost!