There’s an old story that says an ungrateful man is like a hog under a tree eating apples. He never looks up to see where the apples come from. Do you ever look up?
President Ezra Taft Benson said “I hope we can be happy where we are, be grateful for our blessings—now, here—accept the challenge that is ours and make the most of it, and not be envious of others. … [May] (“All This and the Gospel Too,” New Era, Nov. 1991, pp. 4–7).
It’s important for each of us to take the time to realize how many blessings we have, and to express appreciation and gratitude for them. Take a moment now, to jot down ten things you are grateful for, right this moment. You might list your health, good friends, good families, your faith. For every person the list will be different and may change even by the time of day or the mood you’re in when you write it. If you write down ten things every day, then compile them at the end of the week, you’ll probably find you have quite a list. Plus, an interesting thing happens when you begin counting your blessings: You find more and more of them to count!
“And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things” (D&C 59:21)
Feeling gratitude is also important because it helps us to remember that we aren’t in this alone. That we aren’t strung out on a line, floating in the breeze, with no one to help us. God helps us. His blessings are constant and sure, even when we aren’t taking note of them.
How do you feel when people express their gratitude to you? It warms your heart and encourages you to do more good things. We all would love to be appreciated more, why not start by appreciating others more too?
It is important that we all learn to express the feelings of a grateful heart. When you think of the words “Thank You”, what comes to mind? How do you feel when someone says these words to you? How often do you say these words to other people? Take another moment and write down a few specific ways you can express your appreciation to others. Some of my thoughts are:
Write a thoughtful note: I love to write a note of thanks because I can usually take my time and figure out just what to say. I also love to receive notes, so that’s what my first inclination is.
I don’t worry myself over using fancy words to express my feelings; getting caught up in such concerns can only cause you to procrastinate further. Rather, say what’s in your heart. Say just what you feel, and say it like you mean it. It might only be one line of thanks, but if it’s sincere, it’ll be worth a thousand words.
Do a kind favor: I have a neighbor who is especially good at this. She is always doing just a little something for people around her. She doesn’t usually do big things; just a plate of cookies, or she’ll pick up the mail, or pull a few weeds. But it is always heart-felt and and sincere.
Pick up the phone: Often, the first moment when you feel the desire to give thanks is the moment when it should be done. If you’re prone to procrastinate good works, then perhaps this is the best choice for you! A phone call of appreciation is never misplaced. But again, don’t worry so much about what you say, only that your words are heartfelt and sincere.
Smile: The best way to let someone know that you appreciate what they are doing for you – especially in the moment – is to make eye contact with them and smile. Even if you don’t have the opportunity to say the words of thanks in your heart, let the other person know you noticed and that you are thankful by blessing them with your smile.
Treat them with Sweets: Just a little chocolate on your son’s pillow when he’s finally cleaned up his room. Or your husband’s favorite chocolate bar packed into his lunch (never mind that he might be on a diet). We often fail most often to thank the members of our own family, particularly if we perceive the act as one that is required or necessary, like when your boy takes out the garbage. Nevertheless, be grateful! Thank him, and perhaps he’ll move ever-so-slightly less slow the next time you ask him to do it.
I’m sure if you think about it, you’ll be able to think of your own ways to tell the people around you how grateful you are for the blessings they bring to your life.
Now, just one more assignment for you: Think about the thoughtful things done for you this week. Are there any good deeds for which you have yet to say “thank you”? You might want to remedy that situation.
Finally, look up. The scriptures tell us “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more” (D&C 78:19) Look to the blessings your Father in Heaven has given you. You can’t very well write him a note or bake him a plate of cookies. But you can get down on your knees and offer a sincere prayer of thanks. There may be additional blessings waiting to be poured out upon you, if you’ll only have a grateful heart.