One afternoon, I was at a shopping mall, waiting for my friend. While sitting on the bench, my phone rang. It was a woman inviting me to her home for a Shabbat dinner.

"Hi Samantha," the kind voice said.

"Hi. How are you?" I responded.

"I'm doing great, Thank G‑d. Thank you so much for asking, and you?"

Thanking G‑d just wasn’t in the script I’d been handed"Great," I said, and then, making sure no one was looking, I added, in a hushed voice, "Thank G‑d."

Perhaps my initial feeling of embarrassment stemmed from societal pressure. Thanking G‑d just wasn't in the script I'd been handed. But another part of me knew that I had discovered something beautiful. I decided to add the acknowledgment to my everyday conversations. This proved to be problematic.

When my non-religious friends asked how I was, I would respond, "Great, thank G‑d."

Everyone's reaction was predictable. Their brows furrowed as they put their arms around me and said, "What happened, are you okay?"

I further confused them by answering, "Yes, thank G‑d."

After an awkward silence, they would look me in the eyes and respond, "If something bad happened, you know you can tell me right?"

There was the rub. Wasn't being healthy a good enough reason to be thankful to G‑d? Why wait until recovering from a life threatening illness to acknowledge my gratitude to my Creator? Why ask the question why bad things happen to good people and not notice when good things happen to them? Why pray to G‑d for what I want but not thank Him for what He has already given me?

Health is a wealth. I cannot imagine, nor do I want to know, what it feels like to think I may not live until tomorrow. I can't fathom how frightened I'd feel worrying, not just about my own welfare, but about how my family would get by. How horrible it would be to have to spend my hard earned money on hospital bills. How painful to think of what I could have done, what I would have been, if only I still could. Why take my health fore granted while I'm young and able-bodied?

Now is the time I can use my well-being to do good in the world. Why have regrets? Why ignore the fact that I can breathe, wiggle my toes, and stand up whenever I feel the need to? It's an amazing gift. I don't want to wait until I cannot do those things to ask G‑d to give them to me. What if it is too late?

Perhaps I can blame my friends' reaction on a society of consumerism. There's a proverb about a man who complained about not having a pair of shoes but stopped kvetching when he met a man with no feet. There, in the shopping mall, the ultimate symbol of societal consumerism, I had an epiphany about life. Sometimes we are so busy chasing what we don't have that we neglect to appreciate the things we do. This is no way to live.

Sometimes we are so busy chasing what we don’t have that we neglect to appreciate the things we doDon't wait for a wake up call! Acknowledge the gifts in your life. Work with what you have to become a better you. It is only when we look inside of us, instead of around us, that we see we are given so much. Perhaps with that attitude we can build on what we have, instead of staying stagnant thinking about what we lack.

Being thankful is not just a nice thing. It is intrinsic to being a Jew. The word "Jew" comes from the word "Yehuda" meaning "thanks". Judaism doesn't take the little miracles of life for granted. When a Jewish person wakes up in the morning he says "Modeh Ani," which means "I am thankful" and is a prayer that thanks G‑d for giving him another day of life. The grammar of this phrase is interesting. The first word a Jew is supposed to say upon arising is "modeh" meaning "thanks". Only after we acknowledge our thankfulness do we say "Ani", meaning "I". A new day is a gift. It is important to start the day recognizing who the gift is from. Judaism is telling us to put our gratitude before our wants.

Another example is "Asher Yatzar", a prayer said every time one uses the bathroom. We should be thankful that our bodies work the way they should. Not everyone is so lucky.

Think about all the small things in life G‑d has helped you with. Thank G‑d you got that great parking space in front of the office so you weren't late for work today. Thank G‑d for things we think happen by chance. Thank G‑d for the amazing taste of apple pie. Thank G‑d for the variety of food we can choose from to fuel our bodies. Thank G‑d for beautiful flowers in the spring. Thank G‑d for the assortment of colors in the world. When you think about it, there are a million opportunities to thank Him every day.

Being aware of all that G‑d does for me and thanking Him for it has also taught me to be thankful to the people in my life. The lady inviting me for dinner thanked me for asking her how she was doing. Her words made me step back and think. It is nice to have someone ask about your welfare. Acknowledge them for it.

It is only when we look inside of us, instead of around us that we see we are given so muchBeing thankful has many benefits. I've noticed that people who see that I am grateful for their kindness want to do more for me. That's always a plus. But perhaps, the greatest thing is that I'm able to give a little bit back to someone even if I can't physically repay them. I mean, it would be impossible to reimburse my parents for everything they've done for me. So much greater is my gratitude to the One who gives me life every day. Saying "Thank G‑d" is the biggest hug I can give Him. It lets Him know I've noticed what He has done for me and best of all, I appreciate it. When those words escape my mouth, for just a moment, I feel Him. And I am safe in His arms.