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Rachel Alexander Sept. 20, 2013

As our Jewish brethren welcome the New Year, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on what we have to be grateful for. You don’t need more in order to be more grateful. Gratitude is a state of mind to be adopted; like choosing a new lens on the camera. Choose gratitude and life affirms your choice. It’s free, and requires no setup time, or 30-day commitment prior to seeing results.

Before law school, I spent time working as a nanny to a beautiful, spoiled 7-year-old girl during a holiday in Las Vegas. We stayed in a private villa at the Mirage. Her father spent his time gambling and the little girl was left mostly with me. By way of compensation, he would let her order everything off the children’s menu at once, and regularly give me stacks of cash to buy her things from the hotel gift shops.

Aspects of this little girl’s life looked like a fairy tale, but there was a lot that was missing. Lack of parenting and paternal attention were out of my control, but I could focus on her and the skills she needed to better manage her life.

One afternoon, I took the little girl outside to our villa’s private garden. I introduced the “gratitude game”. This consists of naming everything that we could be grateful for. After a few minutes of naming things that appealed to us, we began naming everything. I realized then that virtually everything inherently held the opportunity for gratitude. From the manicured green grass we could walk on barefoot, to the flowering shrubs, to the sun above. The skill is in seeing all things – everyday things – through the lens of thankfulness. It’s changing our lens that changes everything.

Today we can be grateful for everything as well, from gravity, to the road beneath our feet, to being able to read this blog, to having an internet connection. When we are choosing gratitude, everything is an opportunity to be grateful and, as our spiritual gurus and leaders tell us, practicing gratitude invites more of what is wanted.

The gratitude game is something you can play on your own, while you’re waiting in the doctor’s office for your appointment. It’s also a great game to play with your kids. Ask them this, “Look around your bedroom right now, as it is, and name three things that are special to you.” When children are going through a divorce and much is changing, direct their attention toward gratitude – whether it is for their teddy bear, bed or nightlight. This will help them train their vision to positive things and teach them that their own mindset can affect their relationship with the world around them. Kids struggle with so much beyond their control. Guide them to take command of their inner sphere and they can begin to experience their true power.

Gratitude is a state of mind to be chosen and cultivated. Practicing gratitude can create an opening and shifting of course in a direction of your choosing.