In just a few weeks — believe it or not — the Thanksgiving season will be upon us.

And, in coming weeks, when the Halloween costumes and decorations are put away, our minds will hopefully turn to those things for which we are thankful.

Perhaps in these dark times, it’s a little more difficult to see those areas of light in our lives, which is why I propose we don’t wait until Thanksgiving is upon us before we start considering those gifts we have received in our lives — most certainly undeservedly in most cases.

For example, as I consider the things for which I am personally thankful, I am immediately reminded of the life and sacrifices of my savior — Jesus Christ — what He has done and continues to do. I think of the salvation He brought and the blessings I continue to receive from Him, the reality that, without Him, I am nothing.

I am grateful for my church and my faith, for those who are leading me to a stronger relationship with God.

I am grateful for my family, both immediate and extended. They are my anchor in a world of busyness and chaos. When things are tough, time with them can be both recharging and enlightening in reminding me why I do what I do. They are the answer to the question, “Why try?” when things get tough. They are the reason for my best and a calling to do better.

I am thankful for a job that allows me to serve my community. I am thankful that I get to work with a group of professionals who are not just good at their jobs but also share the same community-service mindset I have. I am grateful for the guidance of our publisher, Jeff Vanderbeck.

I am grateful that I live in the United States of America, a country where I can practice my faith and criticize my government without fear of disappearing in the middle of the night. I am grateful, beyond that, that I live in Appalachia. It can be tough and trying to live here, but there are rewards beyond imagining for those who can see beyond the challenges.

I am grateful for so much more than I can list here in a single column, but I think you get the picture.

Why am I so focused on gratitude and on really digging down to find the things for which I am grateful? Without an honest appraisal of those things for which we are grateful, true happiness will always elude us, because we will forever be chasing satisfaction.

Things aren’t perfect, sure, but it can change a lot when you truly find thankfulness in even the smallest of things.

If you realize what you have already been given, it makes it that much easier to let go of the greed and desire for more that drives so many of us not only in our lives, but also toward an early grave.

And if that doesn’t describe so much of the problem with our world today, I don’t know what does. However, instead of focusing on that, I just want to make myself part of the solution by starting within.

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