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Almost every night before bed, Olivia lists all the things she is grateful for. The usuals include, “Mama, papa, all my grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, the air so I can breathe, Mother Earth who gives us our food, Father Sun who keeps us warm, the pool so we can stay refreshed, the rain so it can grow the flowers, our legs so we can walk, our eyes so we can see, my teachers, my friends…….”

It makes me smile that nowhere does she mention a gadget, a toy, an iSomething, or anything made of plastic, but rather all things that truly matter: family and friends and the essentials that keep us alive and healthy.


The niyama samtosa, or contentment, is born out of gratitude and acceptance.  All too often we compare ourselves to the Joneses, wanting what they have (but more and bigger).  This attitude wreaks havoc on Mother Earth (see, and creates more waste and pollutants.

For the holidays let’s buy less and be thankful more, and truly enjoy the gift of family and friends, (and as Olivia says, “Mother Earth and Father Sun”). Take in a beautiful sunset or walk barefoot on the earth.  The simplest pleasures are ultimately the most heartfelt.

And may the end of the year bring us to deeper awareness and appreciation. We are called to act and respond differently in the new year. Let this be our jump start……..

May all beings everywhere be happy and free.