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A woman in a Dallas suburb planned to camp out all this week – from Sunday on – to be first in line for Black Friday deals at her local Best Buy store.

Can you imagine?

Better yet, imagine this: Imagine the store was selling happiness. You’d be inclined to join her, wouldn’t you?

The good news is, happiness – as the Grinch learned about Christmas – doesn’t come from a store. You don’t need to camp out at all. It’s something you already have on hand; it’s something you can give to yourself.

And it’s the best gift you’ll ever get – well, the second-best. We’ll explain.

In all our research, reading, interviews and all our observation of the human condition over decades of chronicling the foibles and feats of the passing parade, our biggest takeaway may be this: The secret to happiness is gratitude.

When you’re basking in gratitude, it’s hard to let anything else get in the way. Troubles roll off your back. You press the “mute” button on mean people. And, in contrast to them, you’re like a lighthouse to those around you.

The wellspring of gratitude, of course, is understanding that life, itself, is the best gift you’ll ever receive. That means appreciating even the “little things” in life; it means paying attention, with your senses and your sensibilities, to the glory of life that surrounds you. It means letting anxiety and worry melt away, because you’ve already been given everything you really need. Everything else is just gravy.

The positive effects of gratitude have even been measured by science. Dr. William F. Doverspike of the Georgia Psychological Association writes that studies show that people who focus on gratitude feel better about their lives and even make more progress than others in working toward important goals. The studies have observed these outcomes in groups that have been tasked with doing such things as keeping “gratitude journals” – in which you write down three things every day that went well – and making “gratitude visits” – in which you thank someone in writing and in person who may have done something significant for you and wasn’t properly thanked.

“Compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events,” he wrote, “those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week.”

When you keep these things in the forefront of your mind every day, then you baste yourself in gratitude. Every day becomes Thanksgiving, just without as much food and football.

Yes, we worry about the economy and what the future may hold. Yes, we may be materially less well off than we used to be. But can we really lay claim to as much hardship and uncertainty as the Pilgrims? They had so much less comfort and so much more peril in their lives.

But they had two things in abundance: faith in and gratitude to God.

There’s a reason it’s called Thanksgiving, and not Wantlisting. And there’s a reason we celebrate every year, through good and bad. It’s because, no matter our difficulties, the gifts of life and love alone are enough to overflow with gratitude.

When you look back on 2011, from many years hence, you can choose to see your problems and heartaches. Or you can thank God in your heart that you were alive to experience it.

Give thanks now and always.

Comments (16) Add comment
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desertcat6
1140
Points
desertcat6 11/24/11 - 03:21 am
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One of my former mentors used

One of my former mentors used to say you should live with an "attitude of gratitude." He was right.

Riverman1
94246
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Riverman1 11/24/11 - 04:54 am
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0
Thanks to all my fellow

Thanks to all my fellow commenters, liberal and conservative, good and bad (you know who you are, heh), Chronicle folks (even you, Sean) and readers for making things interesting this past year. I love all of you.

seenitB4
98477
Points
seenitB4 11/24/11 - 06:19 am
0
0
River.... I feel the warm

River....
I feel the warm love coming my way & I'm sending you love & kisses right back...kiss-kiss.....smack...
(I know you love me..:)

Scarlett

Riverman1
94246
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Riverman1 11/24/11 - 06:41 am
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SeenIt, Scarlett, of course

SeenIt, Scarlett, of course you are at the top of my list. I heard you are a good cook is why. But I'm going back to Charleston where I belong.

seenitB4
98477
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seenitB4 11/24/11 - 06:59 am
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GWTW played on tv

GWTW played on tv yesterday.....I watched some of it for the umpteenth time ....I tried to figure why is it that movie is so interesting..the beautiful gowns--scenes of the South-history of the South--war & love--???----but no......to me it was the connection between Scarlett & Rhett...perfect for each other & happiness at their fingertips & neither could hold on to what everyone wants to find.....true love.....sooo he takes off for Charleston & will look for something he held in his hot little hand.....sigh.....
Tomorrow is another day..

Riverman1
94246
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Riverman1 11/24/11 - 07:04 am
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0
Thanksgiving is a sort of

Thanksgiving is a sort of GWTW type holiday. It fits for some reason. Lavish dinners and all. I saw a Clark Gable movie yesterday on TCM. It was Mogambo with Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner.

GWTW is like a glass of iced tea being given to you by someone you care for secretly and your fingetips barely meet as you take the glass.

seenitB4
98477
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seenitB4 11/24/11 - 07:14 am
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glass of iced tea being given

glass of iced tea being given to you by someone you care for secretly and your fingetips barely meet as you take the glass.

The beginning of a new book called "A Glass of Tea"
:)

Carleton Duvall
6308
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Carleton Duvall 11/24/11 - 08:25 am
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Seenit, RM . This is not the

Seenit, RM . This is not the soap opera section. LOL

harley_52
26074
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harley_52 11/24/11 - 09:18 am
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And while the rest of you

And while the rest of you party, Willow Bailey toils with her chores and floors.

seenitB4
98477
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seenitB4 11/24/11 - 09:22 am
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0
scooby... It oughta be! :)

scooby...
It oughta be! :)

harley_52
26074
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harley_52 11/24/11 - 10:07 am
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An excellent Editorial

An excellent Editorial comment here today.

Happy Thanksgiving to everybody

avidreader
3567
Points
avidreader 11/24/11 - 10:09 am
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I watched the final episode

I watched the final episode of The Wonder Years last night. I feel thankful today. My now-grown sons and I used to watch the show every week. Last night's episode brought back some wonderful memories. I hope everyone has a great day.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 11/24/11 - 04:18 pm
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Happy Thanksgiving Harley,

Happy Thanksgiving Harley, I'm done with all my work..sigh...Thank you for thinking of me:) when that ole bad Seenit didn't:( And trying to take one of my beau's right out from underneath my nose! It just doesn't take anything to turn River's head these days. Oh, Seeenit's just like that old Melanie Wilkes. Anyway, those green drapes looked wonderful on me today, if I do say so myself.

seenitB4
98477
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seenitB4 11/24/11 - 07:34 pm
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0
Fiddle dee Willow..... Easy

Fiddle dee Willow.....

Easy come-easy go!!

Have a great turkey day WB......I'm in Harlem Ga tonight!!!

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 11/24/11 - 08:06 pm
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I just doesn't get any better

I just doesn't get any better than Harlem, Seenit. Have a great time and a safe trip back. I forgive you, really I do.

seenitB4
98477
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seenitB4 11/25/11 - 08:31 am
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Good points about

Good points about Harlem...
Very little traffic---nature all around----room to spread yor wings--quiet ----not much crime----clean air----deer in your yard----dang Holiday shoppers aren't in my face-----I can play music as LOUD as I want!!! hehaw

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