Today I was awakened in a lovely way - the voice of my 5-year-old daughter singing the modah ani prayer as she woke up in her bed. We sing it together every morning, but this is the first time I heard her sing it by herself and without prompting.
The translation of the words is: I offer thanks before you, living and eternal King, for you have mercifully restored my soul within me. Abundant is your faithfulness.
This prayer has been said for more than 500 years. What better way to start the day than with absolute, clear gratitude that we are alive to experience another day? One interesting note... the usual syntax would be to say ani modah (I thank), but here it is modah ani (thank I). The "thanks" comes before the "I". My thankfulness to Hashem is expressed before I feel the I that is just awakening. My thanks is more important than "I". The last part, "abundant is your faithfulness", is gratitude that Hashem has such faith in me to do good things that he has returned my soul to me for another day.
Just the night before we had talked about how sleep is like a little death (our neshama, soul, temporarily leaves our bodies during the night and is restored to us by Hashem), and how death is like a big sleep. No wonder we need sleep. Our neshama can go get all powered up by Hashem, then come back to fuel us for another day. It's a good life.
NOTE: Hashem is used in place of the many names of God that are found in the torah. These names are considered so holy that they are only used during prayer and sometimes during instruction. Most other times we substitute Hashem which means "the name". We can also take the name of God and alter one letter, i.e. elokeinu, using a "k" instead of an "h."