I’m going to start 2012 the same way I start every other day of my life: by remembering how grateful I am to be alive, to have been born not only into this human corporal being, and in a country where I can live in relative ease.

Meditation on gratitude has been part of my morning ritual for the last few years. As I am making tea, I consider all the things that I am grateful for. I almost always start with where I live. I feel blessed beyond words to be back in the Rocky Mountains. It is a privilege and an honour to live here. Many people around the world vacation here; they spend hard earned pay to come here for a week and experience the beauty and peace of this magnificent landscape. I get to wake up every morning and breathe mountain air and gaze on another flawless sunrise.

I am grateful too that I live in Canada. It’s by no means perfect, but I am thankful that I live where I can work hard each day to change what I don’t like, and still return home each evening alive, un-harmed.

My gratitude is deepest when it comes to my family. I have a loving wife who adores me and cares for me and for whom I would do anything. My children are like shining stars to me, and I love them more than words can say. I don’t see them every day, but my gratitude to have them in my life grows each and every moment. I am grateful that they have two loving households, and that we all work so well together in the interest of raising these amazing boys.

My gratitude extends to each member of my family. As 2011 ticks over to 2012 I am grateful, and meditate daily, for the recovery of my step-father Ernie, who married my mother just months ago, and who now is very sick. He is a good man, and I am thankful to have spent time with him over the last few years, and hope I get to spend more time with him in the future. My mother needs you, Ernie: I am grateful for you being in her life.

I am healthy, strong, and have all my wits about me most days. I’m pretty grateful for that blessing.

And I am grateful for my talents, and that I have found a way to align those with a way to earn a living. I can write, and have found a publisher who believes in me. For this rare, precious gift, I am so deeply grateful. And I have a job that allows me, each and every day, to work with amazing people in an effort to make the world a better place. How fantastic is that?

For all of these gifts I am appreciative. None have come particularly easy. Hard work, and years of patience, have been required to attract them to my life. I have never thought that the world owed me these blessings, but I do believe that I deserve them and the contentment that being grateful for them brings. Maybe if I had felt entitled to them I would not wake every single morning with a song of gratitude in my heart and the mantra “how can I express my gratitude for all that is precious in my life this day?”

The science behind gratitude has been in the news lately. Western medicine and psychology are waking up to what indigenous and contemplative cultures have known for thousands of years: that if we are grateful for what we have in our lives, we are happier; we want less, and are satisfied with our place in the universe and feel less anxious about what we don’t have.

To me it just feels like saying thank-you. I was raised to say thank-you, and we’re raising Rio and Silas to do the same. Every single day I want to say thank-you to the world around me for giving me this one precious heart-breakingly beautiful life to live as I choose. It’s not always easy; in fact, sometimes it’s very hard. But it is always filled with wonder.

So 2012 begins the way 2011 ended: by saying thank-you. I am grateful.