Joy and Thanksgiving – Gratitude: Words from a Living Prophet

So, today, we are reading the talk by President Monson: The Divine Gift of Gratitude. It is so good!

I love what we learn about gratitude from this talk. It is the perfect thing to read at Thanksgiving – or any time of year.

This last two weeks, we’ve been studying Joy and Thanksgiving. As I put this study series together, I kind of separated the two concepts, but I knew that they weren’t separate. I love this talk because it clearly teaches how the two principles are related.

President Monson teaches:

“Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.”

This is the secret – the link between gratitude and happiness. When we are grateful, we “unlock the doors of heaven.” We “feel God’s love.” We have established that God’s love is the fruit of the tree of life – that it is happiness; it is joy.

Heavenly Father loves us – whether or not we recognize and accept His love. However, when we are grateful, we can feel more of our Father’s love and joy in our lives. A grateful heart becomes a happy heart.

Now, President Monson doesn’t give this talk with the expectation that we’ll be blissfully ignorant of the problems around us. We just ned to recognize the good – amongst the troubling. We need to choose to see the beautiful rose among the thorns. He states,

“This is a wonderful time to be on earth. While there is much that is wrong in the world today, there are many things that are right and good. There are marriages that make it, parents who love their children and sacrifice for them, friends who care about us and help us, teachers who teach. Our lives are blessed in countless ways.

We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues. Someone has said that ‘gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.’”

It is so easy to focus on what is negative in the world around us, and all of this negativity can drown out the positive. It can wear on our souls.

I know that when I pay too much attention to “the news” I begin to feel depressed – as if there is no solution to the ailments of society. I forget the blessings we have – that I have. I forget that temples dot the earth; that there are amazing people working hard and serving others. I forget that I have been blessed abundantly.

I think that gratitude is being aware – of the difficulties we have while celebrating the blessings that God has give us to face them. Gratitude is acceptance of God’s will – no matter what that is for us. Gratitude is not a state of blind faith or pretended happiness. A grateful heart is a broken one. And when our hearts are broken, they can then be filled with God’s love..

There are times when I am not great at being grateful – or showing my appreciation to others. This last year, both my piano teacher and my brother have passed away. There are times when I have wished I could have done more to show each of them that I appreciate them. I feel especially haunted by the idea that I never was open with my brother. President Monson speaks on this, saying:

“”The loss of loved ones almost inevitably brings some regrets to our hearts. Let’s minimize such feelings as much as humanly possible by frequently expressing our love and gratitude to them. We never know how soon it will be too late.”

President Monson gave this talk in October 2010. A few weeks before my brother’s 18th birthday; eight months before his passing. And the prophet’s words ring true to me – especially now. The loss of Sean has brought regret to my heart. And I know that I could have minimized these feelings by being more open with my love and gratitude for all of my siblings and family members.

I know this, yet, it is hard to change. I get stuck in the little doldrums of life, forgetting the divine miracles I witness all the time. I get annoyed by little habits and foibles of others, forgetting that this is a temporary life, and I will miss them – foibles and all.

Gratitude – it is the key to joy; and the key to minimized regret.

Finally, President Monson teaches us how to obtain a grateful heart.

“A grateful heart, then, comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives. This requires conscious effort—at least until we have truly learned and cultivated an attitude of gratitude. Often we feel grateful and intend to express our thanks but forget to do so or just don’t get around to it. Someone has said that “feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.’”

So – here’s the remedy…we get a grateful heart through expressing gratitude – to our Heavenly Father and to those around us. I’m actually grateful to know that such a heart requires a conscious effort.

I feel like I’m a somewhat grateful person. I mean, I say my prayers. I know that my life is really great. I have been very richly blessed. But I don’t know that am as grateful as I ought to be. I don’t know if my siblings know how grateful I am for them. I don’t know if my parents know how much I love them and thank them for their examples, sacrifices, and raising me. I don’t know if my husband knows that I’m thankful that he works tirelessly at a job that he’s not thrilled about – so I can be at home to raise my kids.

Sometimes, I selfishly look inward. I only think of the fights I’ve had with my brothers and sisters. I think of the mistakes my parents made, and how those mistakes have effected me for years. I selfishly think that my husband doesn’t understand the sacrifice I make – while he’s out with other people, improving his own life, and contributing to our family in an obvious and important way. These thoughts! ACK! I don’t even like typing them. They are so depressing. It is amazing – how gratitude changes it all…

So, I’m going to make a goal – to be more grateful. And this is a conscious effort. I’ve heard of gratitude journals. Maybe that’s the way to go. What do you do to be grateful?

For tomorrow’s Joy and Thanksgiving assignment, click here.


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