Friday, November 18, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude

There have been a few posts/comments made lately on Facebook about how we should just take one holiday at a time, about getting through Thanksgiving before we dwell on Christmas. That somehow Thanksgiving gets over shadowed when we start to do our Christmas shopping in early November, or if we listen to Christmas music around the time we put on costumes and  infect our bodies with candy galore. 

My blog post isn't going to be about defending my  joy of listening to Christmas music weeks before Thanksgiving, but rather, how if I fill my life daily with gratitude, then when the time comes for us to stuff ourselves silly with turkey, sweet potatoes and pies, we won't have to search far and wide to figure out what we're grateful for, we won't feel like this is the only time of year we really do think about the many blessings we have.

I do not believe most of think that way, but I AM trying to think about my blessings on a more consistent basis, and recognize them when they come, and not brush them under the rug. One of my very favorite talks given about Gratitude is by Thomas S Monson, titled The Divine Gift of Gratitude.  He is quoted saying... "We have all experienced times when our focus is on what we lack rather than on our blessings. Said the Greek philosopher Epictetus, “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”  I can consider myself one of those such individuals who has, at times, focused on what I lacked, rather that what I had already been blessed with.  It is something I need to remind myself of often, that it takes a conscious effort, as he has stated in this talk....  "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."

My very favorite statement in this talk is..... "My brothers and sisters, to express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven."  Doesn't that just make your heart swell?  Oh, to live my life in such a manner of daily gratitude as to be able to "touch heaven".  I have a long ways to go.

I think one of the reasons why I enjoy singing so much, is because for me, it is expressing a form of gratitude to my Savior for all he has given me, whether it be triumph or trial.  Words put into song, somehow, feel far more reaching to heaven than my measly words alone could express. 

For the second year in a row, I have posted  daily on Facebook things for which I am grateful, during the entire month of November.  Many of my FB friends have done this as well, and it has been so neat to see all the different things/people/circumstances for which people find themselves grateful for.  It has made me contemplate more on what I have, rather than what I lack.  Many of the posts have been great reminders to me, that 'Yeah, I'm grateful for that TOO.'

There have been times in my life where I've kept a gratitude journal. Sometimes I kept it for weeks, sometimes for months. I haven't been the best at being consistent at it. They say it takes 30 days to form a habit and keep at it. I need to work on that one again.  But I remember when I did do it, that I would write down each and every day, all that I had to be grateful for, for that day.  It really made me think about all the little things that may not be as obvious as the bigger things.  I really need to start doing that again, maybe I'll be closer to touching heaven.

I know that my blessings far out weigh whatever I might think I lack.  Some of the obvious, bigger things, for which I am grateful include my husband, children, home, my church/faith, my parents, siblings, the beauty of this earth that was created by a loving Heavenly Father, food, clothing, vehicles, modern day conveniences, and the list could go on and on. 

I am also grateful for every trial I have endured in my life, because I know that those trials were made to encourage my growth, and give me a deeper understanding of God's love for me.  I would not be who I am today, if I did not travel through the pain of losing loved ones, of dealing with struggles throughout my life, whatever they might me.

For me, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas, if we didn't have Thanksgiving, and vice versa.  I love this time of year. Our hearts become softer towards others around us, we are more inclined to reach out to those less fortunate, to those who are needing more love in their life. And for that, I am grateful for all that I have, all that God has blessed my life with, and my goal is to try to live as if "Thanksgiving" were a holiday, every day, that I might close the gap between my reaching arm and heaven.

1 comment:

  1. I love this Shell. I have enjoyed reading your daily gratitude posts too. The best way to make sure we stay positive and uplifted in this world in which we live is to count our blessings. And "name them one by one"!!!