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Gratitude: Appreciate the Small Stuff

Gratitude: Appreciate the Small Stuff

As a "Yogi" I do my best to incorporate the basic Yoga principles (in Sanskrit called, Yamas and Niyamas) in my every day life. In fact, one of the tenets of every Live Free Yoga class for teens is to integrate one of the Yoga principles in each Yoga class. We require it of all of our teachers who go through our Mindfulness for Teens Teacher Training.

Gratitude: Appreciate the Small Stuff

As a Jewish woman, I am particularly moved by the High Holy Days that are currently upon us that begins with Rosh Hashana (the official beginning of the Jewish New Year) and ends with Yom Kippur (where we fast and atone for our sins).

I am not a religious person. It's just that this time of year is my time to reflect on the past year and think about my wishes for the coming year. It's a time for me to look at the "big picture" of my life - to recognize times I might have hurt someone else, ask for forgiveness and decide on changes I will make in the coming year to do better.

The hardest principle right now to practice as my family struggles to help my dad battle bladder cancer is gratitude. As we sat down to our Rosh Hashana dinner last night, we said the basic prayers for candle lighting, wine and food, but the mood was solemn. What do we have to be grateful for right now? Seeing someone you love suffer so deeply is heart-wrenching and painful for everyone.

My brother, the other famous Square Dance Caller, Steve Kopman, was able to put things in perspective a bit in an email he sent to my mom:

"He's (dad) not the same man he was 3 months ago. I understand that. I know he feels like a prisoner in his home but it's a wonderful, loving home. There will likely be tough decisions in the next week but we should be thankful we even have choices. Many do not."

I never thought of my brother necessarily as a positive guy, or negative for that matter. He lives in Knoxville, TN and I live in Dallas, TX, so we don't see or talk to each other much. Not that we don't love each other - we just get busy with life.

There it is. My epiphany - gratitude is really about the small things that we tend to take for granted that is happening all around us, especially when times are tough.

So, here's my top 10 list of what I'm grateful for on this Rosh Hashana:

  1. Spending more time with my dad than I have in the last 40 years since I left home

  2. Spending more time with my mom than I have in the last 40 years since I left home

  3. Talking to my brother multiple times a day

  4. Not worrying about putting on makeup

  5. Wearing sweatpants almost every day

  6. Eating my mom's food

  7. Being in New York to support my mom and dad

  8. The understanding by my husband, Don, to allow me to be gone so long

  9. Having the time to be in NY, because I recently quit my "day" job to focus on my Live Free Yoga business

  10. Realizing the importance of supporting others when they are in pain and taking the time to reach out to them when they are struggling

Jewish or not, I urge you to take a moment and write down the small stuff you are grateful for. Whether it's one thing or 10, it's important to be mindful of the little things, the hidden things, that support you and bring you joy, especially when you're bogged down with life's challenges.

Join us for our upcoming Mindfulness for Teens Teacher Training. Click here for details.

Gratitude: Appreciate the Small Stuff

Phyllis Smith is Co-Founder and CEO of Live Free Yoga.

Her company specializes in mindfulness programs for adolescents and teens and those who serve them.

If you would like to learn more about Live Free Yoga programs, email Phyllis at or call 214-497-7982.,

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