Grateful for opportunity to share thoughts

I spend a lot of time working on problems, both identifying them and solving them. At work I help students and colleagues with their problems.

In my column I often try to point out problems. And when I volunteer, there they are again, more problems to help solve.

While all of this is actually very rewarding it is also a bit emotionally taxing. So it’s great to take a break from this problem focus every once and while to recharge my optimism. That is why I treasure this season of hope and joy. It provides a chance to revel in gratitude.

I am grateful to have been born in the United States.

Despite the many challenges we face related to the economy and partisan politics, I am thankful for the freedom afforded by the civil rights we have in our modern democracy. I am grateful for the accident of birth that put me in a place of relative affluence where I have access to an education and modern technology, as well as abundant food, clothes and shelter.

And I am most grateful for loving family and friends, especially a spouse who helps me see the wonder in everyday things.

If some terrible tragedy happened and I lost all of this I could be grateful for having had the privilege of experiencing it. That’s the good thing about gratitude, unlike much of what we indulge in this time of year it’s free and available to us whenever we choose to indulge in it.

You don’t have to have special training, equipment or a large bank account. It just takes a certain attitude. An attitude that helps us keep things in perspective and see the abundance in our lives no matter how humble our existence might be. As William Arthur Ward said, “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joys and change opportunities into blessings.”

Gratitude is probably the most precious gift we can give ourselves and each other this time of year.

So let me just say thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. I am eternally grateful.

Kimberly Barrett is the vice president of student affairs at the University of Montevallo.