I asked our Cultivating Joy class to count their blessings this week–to recognize and make a list of the many wonderful and fortunate events that fill their days.

It may sometimes seem that our lives are routine, dull, or even tinged toward the grumpy, depressing, or hopeless side of things. In contrast, the suggestion to notice blessings can sound silly. But when we look around, we may discover that we live with an awesome abundance of blessings. There is so much to be grateful for.

To recognize your blessings, look at your normal experience with appreciation. Abandon any sense of entitlement, desire for perfection, envy, excessive faultfinding, or expectation. Notice the small events.

I had a pear and cheese for breakfast today. Many factors had to come together to give me fresh and tasty food, and to be able to digest it. It is fortunate just to have access to food in the markets; millions of people still suffer from hunger on this planet. As a Dhamma teacher who relies upon donations (dana) from students for my livelihood, my ability to purchase that pear reflects the virtue, kindness, and generosity of my students. And, due to some minor digestive irritation, I recently experimented with not eating dairy products. Now that I am able to enjoy cheese again, I feel quite fortunate that my body is able to convert these foods into fuel for living.

Gratitude for the simple events of life can bring joy to our days.