Standing in line at the grocery check-out, it was hard to miss the People Magazine cover proclaiming some celebrity “The Sexiest Man Alive.” I didn’t have the slightest idea who he was, but it did get me thinking about “sexy” in today’s culture. I am well past child-bearing age, happily married to Dearest, more comfortable wearing jeans than a cocktail dress, and yet I still love the thrill of an increased heart rate, the intake of breath due to some external event.

My work is action-packed. I deal in high-end luxury real estate, which involves working most days of the week, at whatever hours the job requires. I meet interesting clients, both buyers and sellers, and listen to their wants, plans, budgets, time frames, and what they feel they need in real estate. For many clients, the entire process is emotional as each transaction represents a sizable investment, and most of the time “home.” It’s not a sexy job like acting, performing, saving lives with cutting-edge surgery or rescuing children in far-off countries. Vital? Yes. Important? Yes. Requiring professionalism and expertise? Definitely. Sexy? Not generally.

Driving home from the grocery store, with the actor’s face quickly fading from my mind, I pondered what is sexy. Answers popped into my head–things like a brownie covered in homemade ice cream and fudge sauce, or a sleek horse galloping across a field, Claire Danes looking crazy and vulnerable in Homeland, my son’s new puppy gazing at my son’s older and larger dog…but, none of these are really sexy. They are yummy, adorable, magnificent, appealing.

I trudged in my back door, shrugging off my winter coat, grasping bags of groceries, dogs nearly tripping me in their eagerness to say hello. Dearest immediately appeared, eyes sparkling, his voice chipper, asking, “What can I do to help? Thanks for getting this stuff.” In that moment, I understood: gratitude is the real sexy. Nothing is more happiness-provoking than my dogs and Dearest being pleased I am home. Gratitude is a pure energy, a renewable energy, a conduit to true happiness. It’s free. And, like most good things, it requires nurturing. Our culture is now skewed toward interfering with developing and sustaining gratitude, with constant reinforcing that we need more, we deserve more, we should demand more, other people and U.S. government owes us more. We forget to be grateful for simple things.

I grabbed my trusty dictionary…

“Sexy” is defined as provoking or intended to provoke sexual interest; aroused; or, in modern usage: interesting, exciting, or trendy.

Those, I realize, are the key words: interesting, exciting, or trendy.

“Gratitude” is defined as a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation.

I am very grateful that, in Bozeman, Montana (my home!), high-end luxury real estate has begun a solid a recovery in 2013. Actual closed transactions in Bozeman have nearly doubled from 2012, with closed transactions averaging 88% of asking price for the year. However, the asking prices are still down 20% or more from where they were at the height of the market, and the market is very much in a transition period. This frequently results in a disconnect between buyers’ and sellers’ expectations. Thankfully, more often than not, both sides are pleased, but it is tough when one side feels disappointed. The free market dictates pricing and that can lead to real discontentment if a person is not willing to face reality and timing. I am truly grateful for the terrific clients I have been privileged to work with, and also sad that not all transactions are ideal.

Every Thanksgiving I ask the same question of those of us gathered at the food-laden table: “What you are grateful for?” The answers rarely have to do with money or possessions. Responses tend to center on health, family, and opportunity. Think of how much happier we all would be if we incorporated gratitude into our daily discussions. It takes very little time and effort to acknowledge others for their acts of kindness, helpfulness, service, let alone love. What is sexier than someone telling you how much you mean to them?

I have recently taken up Pilates with a gifted teacher. After a few months of steady hard work, my posture and core strength is improving. I am constantly amazed that the tiniest of movements require utmost concentration and effort. Gratitude is like doing Pilates. For something that seems so simple, it requires work, repetition, mindfulness, and a willingness to dig deeper. Our expectations, responses, and attitude shape our gratitude, and, coming full circle, our gratitude shapes our expectations, responses, and attitude. We train our behavior, and it is challenging to stay positive, even when a deal doesn’t yield as much money as you hoped for, or a person doesn’t give you as much attention as you crave. Gratitude comes from a core of thankfulness, beginning with being thankful for being alive and able to evolve.

Whether you are buying or selling real estate, raising children, trying to set an Olympic record, farming a plot of land, writing the next great novel, or sacking groceries, we are all bound by health, family, community. Our attitudes shape how we live and respond within that triumvirate. Being thankful for the moment, for what we have, for those around us, and striving to make our lives better, sustains positive life forces and energy. It is alluring. It is contagious. It is the best of life. It is sexy.