07/16/2011 10:59 am ET | Updated Sep 15, 2011

The Gratitude Game

When the world weighs heavy on your shoulders, the government turns its back on you and the facts of life look so hard and cold you can feel them in your gut, I suggest you take some time out to practice the gratitude game. My daughter and I play it when one of us is feeling out of sorts. It consists in simply thinking of all the reasons you have to be grateful. You can make up your own list, but please feel free to borrow some of our reasons. Many of them apply to everyone.

For instance, let us all give thanks for living in an interglacial period. After all, getting caught in an ice age could ruin your whole day.

I also give thanks that so far today I have not been hit by any falling "space junk."

Looking back at history, many of us will feel deep gratitude for living in this place and time, on the fertile continent of Turtle Island (North America), in this era of unprecedented freedom and abundance. Remember, just a few generations ago most of our ancestors were peasants, and they had almost no fun at all aside from singing a few folk songs, "Dum diddle diddle aye, dum diddle aye." Many of them had to sleep in the same room as their farm animals, and they had to live without painkillers, Chinese food or Velcro.

And consider that in just the past few hundred years we have nearly doubled the lifespan of the average human. So you now get twice as long to be you!

In the attitude of gratitude, we can give thanks for the tool-making genius of our species, which has created our new global brain. So I give thanks for my new mega-giga-pixelated-app-loaded-ram-potent laptop computer and neo-cortex extender, even though I don't have a clue how it all works, and even though I suspect it isn't good for our species in the long run.

We can find so many other reasons to have the attitude of gratitude. Surely we can all give thanks for the opposable thumb! Without it, just think how difficult it would be to button your pants or give a thumbs up. But of course, we now know the real reason for our opposable thumb, and that is to enhance our ability to text.

We also feel gratitude for the more existential blessings. For instance, the Hubble telescope just sent back a picture of yet another galaxy, being called the Sombrero Galaxy -- which, as you might imagine, is shaped like a Mexican hat. And that galaxy contains 600 billion suns! And we got to see that in our lifetime!

And you might well give thanks for gravity, because right now all of us are hurling through space on this tiny rock, spinning around the earth's axis at 1,000 miles an hour and orbiting the sun at 66,000 thousand miles an hour. Thanks to gravity, you don't even have to hold on.

We can also give deep thanks for living in a time and place where all the world's wisdom and cultures are available to us -- so now I can practice Buddha's blissful meditation in the morning, and then go out and listen to hot Latin music at night. Let me hear you say, "Om cha cha cha...ah hum."

The list goes on and on, and friends, if you want to make your own, start out by joining me in the attitude of gratitude for this next breath. It is the mystery of life moving through you. We only get about 13 million breaths in a lifetime, and then maybe none at all for the rest of eternity, so dig this one. Go deep and taste it.

And this is Scoop Nisker, encouraging you all to give thanks all around whenever you can. Love this world, because only if you love it will you find the energy to preserve its life and beauty. And as always, if you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own.