Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

101 rays of gratitude

The decision to practice joy, positivity, and gratitude is by far one of the greatest decisions you can make in your lifetime.

I understand if positivity doesn’t come easily for you because it doesn’t come naturally to my inborn Virgo character.  There’s a tendency to be critical of self and others.  To see the glass as half empty instead of half full. To strive for perfection and thus notice errors—even the tiny ones.  There’s the urge to correct everything and everyone in sight.

Fortunately, we are not bound by our astrology or anything else for that matter. In my own life, I’ve found that it simply comes down to making a decision, once and for all and in every moment, to choose joy, happiness, and positivity.  Happiness doesn’t depend upon external circumstances.  It depends on how you choose to perceive whatever arises in your day-to-day life. Life is not always rosy, but whatever happens, you can strive to always be well within.

Practicing joy and gratitude

Such an attitude shift is not necessarily a cakewalk.  It requires practice, patience, and repetition.  Some people are born warm, fuzzy, and bright.  The rest of us have to make a determined effort to get there, but the rewards are great and the path can be one of joyful diligence rather than struggle. Just like darkness cannot exist where there is light, when you think positively, negativity automatically dissolves.  Thus, by practicing positivity habitually, joy will spontaneously grow your life.

Gratitude is one aspect of positivity that can be practiced any time, any place.  To make it a habit, just spend 5 minutes each morning or evening reflecting upon and appreciating all the gifts in your life.  Deeply feel a sense of gratitude, let it permeate your being and shine out.  Then whenever a negative thought arises during the day replace it with a ray of gratitude.  Make a commitment to practice this daily for a month and you will be well on your way to mastering this self-transforming art.

Remember, it’s a ‘practice,’ which means none of us are perfect quite yet.  Give yourself space for joy and gratitude to slowly buildup and negativity to gradually decline.  Negativity will indeed pop up from time to time.  When it does, just gently move your mind to gratitude without indulging in self-recrimination.  If this crusty Virgo can find more joy in life, there’s no question that you can too!

My 100 rays of gratitude

Making a list of gratitudes—as many as you can think of—is a wonderful way to jump start the process of establishing this new habit.  Take some time and have fun creating your own list.   I spent a few weeks gradually accumulating my list, which meant my mind was gravitating back to gratitude often during each day.

Here are my 100 rays of gratitude.

I’m deeply grateful for:

1. this precious lifetime.
2. my extraordinary spiritual teachers—their kindness, compassion, wisdom, tireless activity, and supreme vision.
3. receiving an abundance of authentic spiritual teachings.
4. my parents.  It is only due to their kindness that I have the opportunity of this precious lifetime.
5. my amazing husband, who continues to shine and grow by leaps and bounds.  He is a tremendous inspiration to me and a fabulous partner.
6. my siblings for all their loving care, kindness, and support.
7. all my friends from childhood until now.
8. free access to information via books, libraries, the internet, and other mediums.  Not everyone has free access to information!
9. being television free for four years+.
10. friendly neighbors.
11. the chance to own my home for the first time in my life, a rare privilege indeed.
12. living in a non-toxic home.
13. being able to eat.  So many are subject to famine, poverty, or illness, unable to nourish themselves adequately.
14. being able to use my hands.
15. clean water, the essence of life.
16. having found my true vocation as a writer.
17. learning to love and accept myself.
18. letting go of fear.
19. letting go of anger.
20. blogging friends.
21. being able to help and touch others through my blog.
22. the readers of my blog, thoughtful commentors, and those who share links to my articles via their social networks.
23. people who are dedicated to creating a better world like Beth Terry, Raam Dev, and Wandering Gaia.
24. the internet – creating a closer-knit global community and opportunities for transforming this world.
25. the natural beauty and aloha spirit of Hawai’i.
26. the ocean, the mountains, the sky.

27. alternative medicine—Naturopathy, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, Tibetan Medicine, Integrative Medicine, Chiropractic, Homeopathy and others.
28. the full spectrum of colors.
29. natural healing—massage, all forms of bodywork, Qigong, Yoga, and countless others.
30. owning a computer.
31. all those who produce green options to plastic, petroleum, and other toxic products.
32. all those who have helped me on my path of healing.
33. all those who have been a thorn in my side, teaching me the most valuable of lessons.
34. the dynamic forces of nature: the elements of wind, fire, earth, water, and metal (or space).
35. the world of the senses—sights, sounds, sensations, smells, tastes.
36. the great writers, dreamers, activists, thinkers, spiritual leaders, and peacemakers of our time who inspire, challenge, and urge us to live meaningfully.
37. indoor plumbing
38. having a washing machine and the ability to wash my clothes in non-toxic laundry detergent without fabric softeners and bleach.
39. bathtubs.
40. epsom salts baths.
41. the healing pond.
42. our deck.
43. lava rock.
44. medicinal plants.
45. our garden and greenhouse.
46. www.treehugger (dot) com
47. our galaxy, the planets and the stars.
48. astrology.
49. the playfulness of whales and dolphins.
50. miracles – they happen all the time.
51. positive people.
52. this ever so patient body, incredibly strong and resilient, the vehicle for this lifetime of discovery.
53. homeopathic medicine.
54. environmental awareness, growing exponentially.
55. living in a warm climate.
56. all the health bloggers who share their stories and information far ahead of the constraints of Western medicine.
57. organic seeds.
58. rainbows.

59. mindfulness meditation for chronic pain.
60. Amygdala Retraining.
61. Dynamic Neural Retraining.
62. the sounds of nature.
63. health food stores.
64. farmers’ markets.
65. the U. S. Postal Service.
66. being highly sensitive for all that it’s taught me.
67. people who do not wear perfume, fragrance, and essential oils and those who do not use fragranced laundry products due to the health dangers of fragrance.
68. sunlight
69. healthy, happy kittens, my favorite personal development coaches.
70. stress reduction strategies.
71. recycling centers.
72. online meditation courses.
73. time for personal retreat.
74. polar bears and sea turtles.
75. the seasons.
76. the Environmental Working Group.
77. everyone who is taking personal responsibility and reducing their oil use.
78. the low-oxalate diet.
79. organic farmers.
80. baking soda, the ultimate non-toxic all-around helper.
81. public libraries.
82. Emergency Medical Technicians.
83. recycling centers.
84. volunteers.
85. nightlights.
86. flashlights.
87. composting.
88. the beauty and symbolism of lotus flowers.

89. quiet and solitude.
90. the feminist movement.
91. bamboo and other sustainable resources.
93. pioneers, innovators, researchers who have the courage of their convictions in the face of resistance.
94. synchronicity.
95. the forest.
96. the Buddha and his teachings.
97. Tibet.
98. the Dalai Lama.
99. the practices for cultivating love, joy, compassion, and equanimity.
100. meditation and teachings on the nature of mind.
101. knowing it all to be like a dream.

“Always recognize the dreamlike qualities of life and reduce attachment and aversion.  Practice good-heartedness toward all beings.  Be loving and compassionate, no matter what others do to you.  What they will do will not matter so much when you see it as a dream.  The trick is to have positive intention during the dream.  This is the essential point.  This is true spirituality.” – Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche in the book Life in Relation to Death

Please share your tips for practicing joy and gratitude.

Thank you for reading and sharing!  If you enjoyed this article please subscribe for free updates by email.  With love, Sandra


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  1. Dolphins are the best. There’s just something so playful and good natured about them. Maybe I’m biased from too many episodes of Flipper 😉

    • Sandra Lee

      I agree! We live close to a beach where people swim out to play with the dolphins. Somehow it just naturally sparks happiness and joy to see the dolphins and people swimming and frolicking together.

      • Sandra Lee

        This morning I was early for an appointment and walked over the lava fields to a former beach. I was greeted by a school of dolphins – maybe 20 – swimming by and some leaping into the air. It was so delightful! I was amazed by how close they were to the shore.

  2. I love your rays. Beautiful . . . and they brought to mind things I’m grateful for that I’ve overlooked. I used to keep a gratitude journal but now try to stay open to gratitude (and the accompanying joy) throughout the day. Every moment brings a new opportunity to give thanks. I miss many of those opportunities, but capture enough that I always have a deep knowing that all truly is well!

    • Sandra Lee

      Jean, I’m so inspired by your approach of staying open to gratitude throughout the day. It’s so incredible to have the deep feeling of knowing that all is truly well. You are “always well within” I would say! Thanks for taking the time to post a comment. I appreciate it so much.

  3. This list is amazing. I love that you included baking soda and kitties. My cats are here right now nudging me to feed them. (But they have to wait 33 minutes.) 🙂

    Thank you so much for including me in this list. What an honor.

    I would love to discuss #67 with you sometime because as I eliminate fragrances from my life, I’m becoming incredibly sensitive to them to the point of headaches, which I suppose I could be grateful for since they are important warnings many people are unaware of.

    • Sandra Lee

      Hi Beth,

      Thanks for your positive words. I’m new with the kittens, but I gather from what you say that waiting longingly to be feed is standard operating procedure!

      I’m so sorry to hear about your troubles with fragrance and migraines. In allergy and intolerance lingo, intolerances are often “masked.” Once we remove an irritant from the system, when we reintroduce it after a break the reaction is typically far more apparent because the intolerance has become “unmasked.” It’s estimated that about 16% of the population is reactive to perfumes and chemicals with reactions ranging from mild to severe.

      I would be happy to talk to you about this any time. All the best to you and thanks for dropping by. I know you are fantastically busy over at fakeplasticfish (dot) com and am grateful for all you do.

  4. I have saved my gratitude journals for 7 years. I can look back and have photographic memories pour into my mind that are beautiful and I’m grateful all over again.

    What stands out for me is your four years without a TV. My hubs loves TV, especially sports. I limit myself but will probably always have one. In fact I compromise and we have a few favorites we watch together.

    To my gratitude list I know also write “want went right in the last 24 hrs” and “what I got right in the last 24 hrs.” Jacob Glass says if our egos want to keep score…we’ll give them something positive to do it with;)

    • Sandra Lee

      Hi Tess, I’m amazed that you have 7 years of gratitude journals. That’s truly incredible, what a terrific way to inspire yourself in any moment.

      Compromise is good! I’m glad you enjoy some programs together with your husband. My husband and I went on a retreat for awhile and that ended the television habit for us. Neither of us had a urge to get a new t.v. after the retreat. The internet can be just as distracting as t.v. though!!!!!

      Thanks for adding an extra gratitude idea! Got to take care of that ego a bit. 🙂

  5. A gorgeous list. Can I add chocolate to make it 101? I know it’s naughty but nice:) Definitely very grateful for my blogging friends and all the brilliant things blogging has brought me. Thanks Sandra:)

    • Sandra Lee

      Annabel, how could I have missed chocolate. Thanks goodness for your fine eyes! 🙂

  6. HI Sandra,
    What a wonderful, loving and positive list! WOW! I think there are so mnay things in this list I am so so grateful fro too. We do have so many in common here…
    And you linked to my best day post in it sweet 🙂
    I think I will second Anna and add chocolate as 102 😉 Cause seriously..although i do limit myself cause of weight issues…..i still cant help but be eternally grateful to God for making chocolate. It seems to be my only savior in those moody days of mine 🙂
    Lots of love,

    • Sandra Lee


      Obviously, I have made a grave omission! Two votes already in the direction of chocolate! This is serious. 🙂 Very serious.:) Of course, I had to link to one of your posts because whenever I think of “positivity” you always come flashing to mind in the speed of light. Lots of love to you too.

  7. varuni chaudhary

    dear Sandra,
    you will know that i read your rays of gratitude very carefully as no 71 and 83 are the same. now you have some space for chocolate.
    let me tell you something. i really resented the fact that me, my husband and two grown up sons having to live in one room, it does create problems. At least until the forced arrangement actually helped save my marriage, and i am grateful for the space i have now.
    but life changes constantly, now i have hypothyroidism to be thankful for.
    so moral is you have to look behind of everything, there is always a silver lining.
    lots of love,
    you don’t know that you and Bernie mean to me

    • Sandra Lee

      Dear Varuni,
      It makes me so happy to hear from you. You have keen eyes! Thanks for catching the duplicate. I’m not a big chocolate eater myself, but I will add it to the list because it makes my readers so happy.

      I’m so sorry you have so little space for your family. For almost our entire marriage, we lived in a one bedroom apartment quite happily, but it’s hard to imagine living in one room with four people total. We are so spoiled in the U. S. and have no idea how it is for the majority of the world. That makes me very sad. I hope that somehow what I write on my blog can touch other people’s hearts so we can make the world a more fair and just place for all.

      You are a beautiful, compassionate spirit to be able to see the positive side of your challenges. I hope you are able to get good treatment for your hypothyroid condition. You are also special to me and Bernie. Sending you a hug! Sandra

      • varuni chaudhary

        Dear Sandra,
        It is your compassionate nature that makes you feel sad. But if i look a little closer at the lives of the little children(8-10 yrs, below the poverty line) that i teach in the afternoon i realize that actually it takes very little to keep the soul happy. they are my Bodhi and Chitta. my treasure of learning.
        thanks for your concern, i am getting very good treatment for me. But i feel that this illness is to teach me something, gratitude and equating my worth with my work(ego) being just the tip of the iceberg.
        love to all,

        • Sandra Lee

          Varuni, You are so right, it’s not “stuff” that makes us happy. Hugs, Sandra

  8. Thanks for this lesson that you gave to my life!! Now, I understand that I have to be grateful for all I have, and for all that I don’t have too.

    • Sandra Lee

      Viviana, I’m so happy this post inspired you. The beauty on your blog inspires me and so I used more photos in this post! All the best to you.

  9. Thanks Sandra. For this post!

  10. I am not surprised to learn you are a fellow Virgo. Just one more thing we share! I am grateful for you and this beautiful list. I can feel one of my own brewing – and I will be sure to attribute you as my inspiration!

    • Sandra Lee

      Dannette, I loved writing this post and I bet it will be fun for you too. In case anyone isn’t sure, we Virgos have good qualities too. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Looking forward to your rays of gratitude. Hugs.

  11. Great list, Sandra! I may have to write my own rays of gratitude!

  12. Hello Sandra. Very interesting post I like the notion of rays of gratitude. I aggrree that chocolate should be on your list. I would also add clouds I have always enjoyed looking at and seeing them change shapes and dancing across the sky. Sunrises and sunsets would also be on my list.

    Now look at you have done. hehehehe I’ll have to post a similar post with my own lists. Really this would be a great exercise for the disabled and families who have disabled children or adults in them.

    Happy Thanksgiving 2010.

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