We are frequently reminded of the importance of remembering our blessings this time of year. Gratitude is one of the foundational qualities of a truly happy person. Someone who chooses to see the world through a lens of what is good instead of allowing what is not to direct and control them. There have been times that I have felt that people are either wired this way or they aren’t, but the older I have become and the thousands of more patients I have seen receive help in our clinic, I have come to believe much more strongly that a grateful attitude is a choice we make. But like with anything we can do that has value and is worthwhile, it is a choice that requires time, repetition and effort to fully realize. In other words, it is not necessarily an easy road.

Most of what we are exposed to in our society lends itself to making us aware of what we are lacking. And because of our prosperity, it is not even about what we do not have anymore. We have a home, we just need a bigger one. We have a car, we just need a newer one. We have a job, we just need one that makes more money. We have our health, but we need to do something about whatever scary new condition is lurking around the corner. It goes on and on and on.

It takes real effort to focus on what is good and, to be honest, it is often so much easier to do the opposite. I have had the opportunity to travel to many developing countries and to stay in villages and in homes of people who have very little materially. Generally without exception, I consistently meet the most friendly and grateful people in these places. It can be a very humbling experience that frequently makes me ashamed of the things I give “life” to in my day to day routine.

All of this to say that even though things have not been perfect lately, chances are they are not going to be perfect in 2014 either. I am sure there is something going on with your body right now that you would like to be better than it is – something you want to go away. Believe me, I understand. I do want to encourage you though to take heart in what is going well. I am not saying to ignore it, but do not give it too much “life” or power over you either.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who trusted their health to us in 2013. It is one of the things in life all of us are most grateful for. We are excited and looking forward to all next year has to bring.