Thanksgiving will be here next week. People will be getting together with family and friends to share a great meal and hopefully share some good times. The meaning of Thanksgiving is in giving thanks for what we have. Were talking about gratitude. Gratitude is an attitude of happiness. Gratitude will enable you to experience the best things in your life. It is one of the basic things we need to experience in order to feel happy. Gratitude is the trailblazer to happiness. If you want to be happy ... be grateful. If you're grateful, then you will not be unhappy.

Unless you are grateful for what you have got, you really can't enjoy it. By being grateful you actually are able to enjoy those common things that most people take for granted. Benjamin Franklin wisely stated, "To the discontented man no chair is easy." Unless you appreciate something you do not really enjoy it or even make the best use of it. Being thankful puts you in a better relationship with existence.

How do you access that attitude of gratitude? You can do it by finding something to be grateful for, it could be anything. It could be a loved one or something about your health such as the fact that you can see, or anything else that comes to mind. Think about how fortunate you are to have all this in your life. Things could always be better, but remember that they can always be worse. You can also be grateful for the many negative things you do not have. Which may include a life of poverty, illness and so many unfortunate life events. You automatically start to feel better than you did before you thought about it. This positive change of attitude is the result of your gratitude.

Gratitude is your calculator, and you become your own accountant. When you count on gratitude, your happiness lies in the balance. It allows you to take stock of what you have. You can now see how things have moved out of the minus column and into your plus column. You feel wealthier when you can account for what you do have, instead of always thinking about what you don't have. Being grateful ads value in your life because you become aware and take inventory of what you have.

When I need something or would like something in my life, I respond with gratitude and act as though I already have it. Gratitude acts like a magnet in attracting those things to me. It's not always your job to make things happen. You can just let things happen. I don't have expectations, just a preference for what I want. I ask for it without expecting it and act with faith that I have it. If it does not happen, I change something or learn to be patient. If it still does not happen, then it may not be meant for me right now or realize I may be better off without it.

You have an opportunity to get yourself into a happier state of mind. If you want to feel good and make a difference, get into the holiday spirit of giving. Become a part of the Thanksgiving Basket Brigade. Every year, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, hundreds of people meet in Milford, and put together baskets of food for families in need. These people take part by volunteering their time, their energies, and their dollars.

On Saturday, Nov. 21, at 9 a.m., our mission will be to put together and deliver complete Thanksgiving dinners directly to the families in the New Haven area. This year we are providing more than 500 families with a Thanksgiving they will always remember. The baskets include a turkey, and a complete family dinner, with other practical items.

Would you like to help? You can volunteer your time on Saturday, morning Nov. 21, to prepare and deliver the baskets. You can contribute so we can buy the Thanksgiving turkeys and food. Please sign up by visiting our Web site, www.CTbasketbrigade.org, become a bolunteer to help assemble the baskets. You can assemble baskets or deliver or you can do both. Assembly helpers -- we need volunteers to help assemble the food baskets from 9 a.m. until noon. Delivery drivers -- we need volunteer drivers to help deliver the food baskets from 11 a.m. until 2 or 3 p.m.

Giving and sharing is a large part of happiness. You can share in the gift of being happy this Thanksgiving,

Your contribution is 100 percent tax-deductible and every penny goes directly to helping people. You can go on the CCCC Web site now and donate: http://www.ccccnh.org. Or send your check to the CCCC, 131 Dwight Street, New Haven, CT 06511. The phone number is (203) 624-2600. In the memo section of your check please write "Thanksgiving," or "Basket Brigade," so the donation will go toward food for the needy. The CCCC helps children and single moms move from a shelter to their own place. Many of these families do not have enough money for the traditional thanksgiving dinner.

If you are looking for happiness, this may be a good place to start. If you bring happiness to others, you can also find it. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "You cannot pour happiness on others without getting a few drops on yourself." If you are happy to begin with that's great, now you can share it with others and it will intensify within you.

I would like to thank each one of you in advance for sending in a donation or volunteering your time, or doing both. I have been participating in this event for years, and it makes me feel great for the rest of the year. Do something for yourself by doing something good for someone else. It has been said that giving is receiving. If you want happiness, give happiness to someone, and you will have it.

I trust you will elevate yourself to a higher altitude and profit from gratitude. If you want to get into the holiday spirit then start by giving your time or money or both and join in the fun. You will be the happiest person in the world by participating in our Thanksgiving Basket Brigade this year. I wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving.

Lionel Ketchian is the founder of the Happiness Club. He can be reached at PrintLRK@aol.com. The Web site is www.HappinessClub.com.