*The views presented are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the United States Department of Defense or the United States Navy.

Each day, about 150,000 people die somewhere in the world. That boils down to 6,000 people an hour, 100 a minute and at least one each second. The fact that you are sitting here reading this article means you can already count yourself as one of the blessed.

I would venture to say the majority of us, no matter how bad things are or may get, are much better alive than dead. Even in the unfortunate instance of 120 suicides per day in the United States – a number far too large – surviving family members or friends of the deceased often look back and admit things did not seem so bad.

The point is that most of us can evaluate our lives and find many ways to count our blessings.

Here are 5 ways to count your blessings that maybe you haven’t thought of:

1.    First is the blessing of living in a country where the level of your success is limited only by your ability to dream big, visualizing your dreams and committing to work tirelessly to achieve them.

In the United States, you are free to be just who you are. You’re free to express your views, and others are free to express theirs. What an incredible gift! Even if you were born in a country where freedom of expression and opportunities are limited, it is likely that you are just a few touches away on your phone or computer to access some of the most brilliant thinkers, ideas and knowledge of our time.

2.    You are also blessed to live in a world where the present is more perfect than the past, a place where, in all likelihood, the future will be even more perfect then your current circumstance.

Take a quick look at the not-too-distant past; say, a few hundred years ago. It was a time when human beings were captured, tortured and sold to slavery, where the more powerful countries invaded the less powerful ones, robbed them of their wealth and killed their citizens. How about the cruelty of the past two world wars?

One only has to look at the past to see how blessed we are to live in the present. Even though our current world is far from perfect – it’s rife with polarized tension and insensitivity to the challenges faced by the less fortunate – and even though at times justice seems unjust, I think we all can agree and feel blessed by the fact that this current century is far more perfect than the ones that came before it. And if the past is any indication, we can rejoice in knowing that the present offers great hope of a more perfect future.

3.    Count your blessings for the people in your life and be grateful to have them. Some of us may think we don’t have many friends, but we can all count our blessings that we not reading this article behind the bars of a state penitentiary. If we were so inclined, we could easily grab a pen a paper and write a heartfelt letter to 5 people in our circle to let them know how grateful and blessed we are to have them in our life. (Once you’re done writing, don’t forget to drive to the post office and mail those letters out.)

In the unfortunate instance that you are behind bars while reading this article, you can still count your blessings and be grateful for this opportunity to, at least in your mind, connect with someone on the outside.

4.    Count your blessings for your health. We should all take a moment to count our blessings for being healthy. Are the foods you eat healthy for your body? Do you exercise routinely? Do you use your time wisely? Think of the man who cannot breathe comfortably without being connected to an oxygen tank, the one to whom the simple act of taking a shower feels like running a marathon. I am sure if you look deeper, you will find many reasons to be grateful for your health.

5.    Count your blessings for being able to make a difference and impact others by seeking to improve the lives of those around you in every way possible, no matter how small.

You may be asking yourselves why you would count giving back as a blessing. The truth is that we gain just as much joy from giving back as the person receiving the blessing. In my opinion, one of the biggest ways each one of us can show gratitude is through our ability to make a difference in the lives of others.

No matter how difficult your situation is, you can volunteer at an after-school program, or help the child of a single mother with his or her home. Maybe you can even volunteer at a nursing home to put a smile on the face of an elderly person. I’m sure plenty of residents at the assisted-living facility would be ecstatic to be able to “flirt” with a younger person of the opposite sex! If you don’t have time to volunteer, consider donating $10 a month to an organization like www.dalove.org, that helps send children to school in Haiti, or any other organization of your choice. Whether it’s time spent, deeds done or money gifted, every little bit helps.

If we all think hard about it, we can admit that simply by being able to read these words, we are blessed beyond our wildest dreams. Countless others are not nearly so fortunate, but we are among the fortuitous, and for that, we should give thanks. Hopefully, that sense of blessing will empower you to be grateful for who you are and where you are at this particular moment in your life.

This sense of gratitude will undoubtedly change your state of mind and help you move more confidently in the future, which by all accounts should be even brighter and more perfect than the world today.

Consider your mind as a copy machine. Whatever you think and however you act is replicated over and over again, forming a pattern and a way of life. What “images” are you placing on your copier? If we only copy our feelings of defeat, discouragement, self-doubt, and regret, our brain will likely learn to duplicate that process. However, if we choose to focus on the above reasons to count our blessings, we will multiply those thoughts and continue to feel blessed and grateful for the opportunities of life.