Good Sunday morning, everyone! We live every day in the pursuit of happiness, each of us with our own idea as to what that is and how we are going to get there.

One of the most popular forms of seeking happiness is through the accumulation of “things.” You can put your own definition of what those things may be to you. But in this world, whether it be material things, accomplishments or relationships, these things are all viewed as disposable.

So, what is the key to happiness? I’m going to throw another one of those virtues at you … gratitude.

The ancient philosopher Cicero called gratitude the mother of all the other virtues. Studies have linked gratitude with increased satisfaction, motivation and energy, better sleep and health and it reduces stress and sadness.

Research has also shown that 44 percent of women are emotionally dissatisfied in their romantic relationship. The main reason is lack of communication and appreciation, or gratitude. It is no different in the workplace. The main reason for turnover and lack of productivity is due to not feeling appreciated.

Gratitude is the recognition that life owes me nothing and all the good that I have is a gift. Humility makes that recognition possible. Humility is a key to gratitude because living humbly is the truest approach to life.

Humble people are grounded in the truth that they need others. We all do.

We depend on our parents, our friends, our pets, our co-workers to help provide us with what we cannot provide for ourselves. We are pack animals and we simple can’t go it alone.

But being humble is not easy or natural. Thinking of oneself is natural and perhaps that is why being grateful is so hard for us. It is unnatural and takes practice.

I’ve had years of practice and working here at the United Way office has certainly helped. If you have a roof over your head, a job to go to, food in your refrigerator, a bed to sleep in, running water and electricity — I could go on and on — then you should be so, so grateful. Because there are so many in our community, as well as around the world, who don’t.

Give from your heart, love your life as it is, be humble, be grateful and you will find true happiness.

Give. Advocate. Volunteer. Live United.

Sherri M. Askren is president of United Way of Danville Area, Inc., 28 W. North St., Danville, IL 61832. Phone: 442-3512

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