Among the countless gifts humans are given the moment they are born and blink into consciousness is the choice of viewing the world as filled with blessings ... or larded with shortcomings.
This particular Thanksgiving, it may be easier than usual to focus on the negative with war, terrorism and anthrax heaped on top of our everyday murders, illnesses and misfortunes. But adopting that focus is a strictly personal choice.
Young Anne Frank, in her Holocaust diary, chose differently.
"I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains," she wrote. "Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself within and without you and be happy."
Despite Frank's own desperate situation and the fact that she could not venture beyond her family's attic, she realized that her world was brimming with reasons to be thankful.
Gratitude isn't an easily-cultivated emotion even on Thanksgiving, when we're more likely to concentrate on the turkey or the television or late-arriving guests than on expressing gratitude. But doing just that, to God or Allah or Buddha or Aunt Helen for her awesome cranberry sauce, is the best defense against taking our fortune for granted.
In Hebrew, the word for gratitude "hoda'ah" has two meanings. The other is "confession." In other words, to offer thanks is to confess dependence, to admit that your life is better because of the efforts of others. Take a look at the folks seated around your Thanksgiving dinner table and ask yourself if this applies to you.
Whoever and wherever you are this Thanksgiving, if you have at least one breath and one heartbeat left in you, the good in your life outweighs the bad. And right there, all by itself, is all the reason you need to be thankful.