No matter how bad things get, there is always something to be thankful for. And not just on Thanksgiving Day. Every day.

Even a curmudgeon allows for some goodwill on this day.

The challenge is to find an attitude of gratitude daily. Or at least regularly.

Psychologists now say thankfulness is good for us. Studies of the brain show there are positive effects of being grateful, even when things are not so good. (Think "the economy.")

According to an Associated Press story this week, scientists have determined that gratitude is one of humanity's most powerful emotions.

In the article, Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, said grateful people "feel more alert, alive, interested, enthusiastic. They also feel more connected to others."

After a tragedy

Gratitude, compassion and helpfulness always seem to come easier after a disaster or tragedy. Hurricane Hugo pops into mind. Everyone was his brother's keeper, sharing food, water, supplies and helping one another.

My neighbor had multiple loaves of bread and went around the subdivision offering them to everyone.

I had never visited my elderly neighbor across the street, but the day of the storm, I went knocking on her door to make sure she would be OK. She was thankful.

On a more personal note, on Feb. 10, 1973, during an unusual snow storm for this area, our home burned to the ground. My family lost everything. Not even a photo was salvaged.

So the question remains, "What is there to be thankful for during such an awful situation?"

Well, seven children ages 9-19 were in that house. Everyone escaped without serious injury or burns.

Away at college at the time, I quickly went through my closet and sent half of my clothes home, and I was so grateful to be able to do it. Neighbors and relatives took in family members for an extended period until the family got back on its feet.

Then and today, I am so thankful for my family and those who helped us.

Tough times for many

As many of us eat our fill of turkey and all the trimmings, and others for whatever reason prepare for Black Friday, my thoughts go out to people who are going through tough times now:

--Loved ones of Brittany Aigoro, the 21-year-old Pineville woman killed in September when someone fired a hail of bullets into a house full of people;

--The family of Allison Griffor, the 5-year-old who died from shotgun pellets in her head after someone fired into their home, who must spend this first Thanksgiving without her.

--Cousins who lost a sister and best friend last month after a long battle with cancer; the family of my friend and former co-worker, jazzman Jack McCray, who died suddenly last week; the family of the missing James Island woman who must face today not knowing what has become of their loved one.

And the list goes on.

We don't have to know these people to hope that today they will find some peace and comfort in knowing that others care about what they are going through. And that they can be grateful for having shared the lives of their loved ones.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Reach City Editor Shirley A. Greene at 937-5555 or sgreene@postandcourier.com.