This week, consider the state of our existence in these United States in 2013. Because Americans are seldom satisfied with the status quo, we push for improvements in all areas of life. Even when we may be comfortable, even overfed in our own homes, we feel bad for those less fortunate than we are.

If you are a frequent reader of this column, you may think I also am never satisfied, a grump looking for every cloud in a mostly clear sky. Therefore, please let me share my perspective concerning gratitude for the incredible richness of our lives.

First, since everything else about my world view stems from my belief in the love and care of the awesome yet personal Almighty God, I begin by confessing this. I entered into this relationship with the dim understanding of a 9-year-old, but I have found this foundation to be the only way to make sense of life.

At the request of both houses of Congress, President Washington proclaimed a day for public thanksgiving and prayer on Nov. 26, 1789. He referenced the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, even to beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions.

With all of our progress since then, this need has definitely not lessened. I am intensely grateful to God for:

• My ability to openly declare my belief and opinions and for your right to discern your own.

• Our ability to worship God as we see fit or to decide that we will worship someone or something else.

• Our privilege to live in the nation and culture that still draws people from elsewhere like a magnet.

• Our continuing ability to hold elections, following which the populace does not resort to violent purges.

• Our individual right to determine in what industries and endeavors we wish to engage, to accept and take risks of success and failure.

• Our ability to realize our goals and dreams through creativity, persistence, and collaboration with like-minded associates.

• Our ability to recognize that we of all peoples of the world have been truly blessed by God.

• Our individual and collective ability to aid others with food, shelter, healing, and other needs, both in our own land and around the world.

• Our ability to appreciate that the most important things in this world are not things at all, but people, principles and relationships.

Ron Finke is president of Stewardship Capital in Independence. He is a registered investment adviser. Reach him at