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12 Seconds to a Better You: Beyond Thanksgiving

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On Thanksgiving, we all took a deep breath and gave thanks for family, friends and the simple pleasures of life. How do we make it last? Would it not be great if the spirit of Thanksgiving endured?

Long after the turkey is gone, the stirrings of gratitude can live on -- and enhance our lives.

The secret is a 12-second formula.

When we arise in the morning, we have a choice. When the radio turns on in the morning to awaken us from our sleep, do we view it as an alarm clock and snooze, or as an opportunity clock to seize the beauty and blessings of the day?

The first words Jews recite upon arising impacts our emotional and spiritual well being. Judaism teaches that the gift of speech separates us from the animal kingdom and enables us to emulate G-d. The very first words uttered by G-d in the Bible are "Let there be Light!"

What do we exclaim upon waking?

Our tradition teaches that the very first words should be, "Thank G-d, I am alive!"

There is more...

G-d works in mysterious ways. The following story illuminates the secret of the 12-second formula.

In a United States convention of neurologists from all over the world, one of the main topics was the phenomenon of people fainting upon getting up from bed (when they wake up from sleeping). One of the speakers was Professor Linda McMaron of Great Britain and she gave a lengthy speech regarding her study on this issue.

She elaborated that after many years of study and investigation on this subject, she came to the conclusion that the fainting is caused by the sharp transfer between laying down and standing up. Professor McMaron said that it takes 12 seconds for the blood to flow from the feet to the brain. But when a person quickly stands upon waking up, the blood gets "thrown" to the brain too quickly and the result is fainting. She suggested that each person, even one that does not have a tendency to faint, upon waking should sit on the bed, and count slowly to 12 to avoid dizziness, weakness and/or fainting. Her speech was rewarded with loud applause and enthusiastic feedback.

Another professor, a Jewish man, asked permission to speak. He said, "In our tradition, we recite a prayer of thanks to the Creator of the World for meriting us to wake up healthy and whole. The prayer is said immediately upon waking up, while one is still on the bed and sitting down. There are 12 words in this prayer and if one regulates himself to say it slowly with concentration, it takes exactly 12 seconds to say it. ... 12 words in 12 seconds."

He said the prayer slowly in Hebrew: Mode Ani Lefanecha Melech Chai Vekayam, Shehechezarta Bi Nishmati Bechemla Raba Emunatecha -- "I thank Thee, O living and eternal King, because You have graciously restored my soul to me: great is Your faithfulness." The auditorium burst into a standing applause that roared throughout the auditorium. This time, it was for the Creator of the World.

Regardless of your faith, imagine the impact upon arising of a 12-second declaration of faith in the Almighty and expression of thanksgiving.

We will not only feel so grateful for being alive but greet the day with a renewed sense of Divine Purpose and appreciation of life.

Formulate your own morning message, pledge 12 seconds to a better you and capture the spirit of gratitude each and every day!

Tool Box: What is your personal pep talk each morning to awaken with Thanksgiving every day?