Having an Attitude of Gratitude
Thanksgiving isn’t until next month but I’m going to get a head start on it. I first heard of gratitude journals a few years ago. I thought it was a great idea. So I started keeping a daily log of 3+ things that I am thankful for. I had been struggling (& still do struggle sometimes) with being grateful for the blessings that I have. I haven’t been the best about keeping up on my gratitude journal but I’ve found that when I take the time to recognize my blessings and acknowledge them that I have a much better outlook on life and my trials don’t seem quite so bad anymore. For a long time I focused much more on what I was missing in life – like having children – than on the blessings that I had received.
LDS.org has great information about gratitude:
‘Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation and thankfulness for blessings or benefits we have received. As we cultivate a grateful attitude, we are more likely to be happy and spiritually strong. We should regularly express our gratitude to God for the blessings He gives us and to others for the kind acts they do for us.
The Lord has promised, “He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious” (D&C 78:19). Gratitude is an uplifting, exalting attitude. People are generally happier when they have gratitude in their hearts. We cannot be bitter, resentful, or mean-spirited when we are grateful.
We should be thankful for the wonderful blessings that are ours and for the tremendous opportunities we have. We can be thankful to our parents, family, friends, and teachers. We should express appreciation to everyone who has assisted us in any way.
We should thank our Heavenly Father for His goodness to us by acknowledging His hand in all things, thanking Him for all that He gives us, keeping His commandments, and serving others. We should especially thank Him for His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, for the Savior’s great example, for His teachings, for His outreaching hand to lift and help, for His infinite Atonement.’
We have so many blessings to be grateful for: we have a living prophet who gives us guidance and we have so many resources to help us draw nearer to Christ (scriptures, church magazines, manuals, conferences, church meetings, etc). Depending on our individual circumstances, we can be grateful for our health, family, friends, modern conveniences, financial stability, career, and opportunities – just to name a few.
I am grateful for the gospel, my husband, my dogs, my family, my job, my education, my home, my friends, books, cozy blankets, days when I can sleep in, my talents, the internet, and modern medicine. These are just some of the things that I have recognized as blessings. When you start recognizing your blessings, the list of what you are grateful for keeps growing.
The hymn ‘Count Your Many Blessings’ illustrates the importance of gratitude and how it can brighten our lives:
‘When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done. …
So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged; God is over all.
Count your many blessings; angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.’
Below are a few quotes about gratitude that I felt really nailed it:
Howard W. Hunter said ‘…If we have a thankful heart we will have the blessings that come from constant appreciation for the things done for us and the Lord’s goodness.’
Kris Belcher, an LDS author said ‘Gratitude is a great remedy for sadness. It has the power to brighten and uplift. Gratitude brings me closer to God. When I make a real effort to identify and show gratitude for even the smallest blessings I have, my spirit lifts, and I realize I’m not alone.’
S. Michael Wilcox, a retired institute teacher and LDS author, said ‘Too often we wait for some change before we believe we can enjoy life…The key is to appreciate, to value and relish what we are doing, to live at least as much in the now as we do in the future, or even more futile, the past.’
We are reminded to be thankful at Thanksgiving and Christmas but we should strive to make being grateful a daily goal. By training our minds to view life in this perspective, we will become more grateful for those blessings that we have and our trials, whether it be childlessness or something else, will fade in intensity. Consequently, our happiness and appreciation of our lives will increase.