Cicero, the great Roman orator, claimed that gratitude was “not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” (Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pro Plancio, 54 b.c.) With a grateful heart, our minds are free to experience true happiness because we aren’t distracted by complaints and self-pity.
President Joseph F. Smith, former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, (or Mormon Church) proclaimed: “The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil.” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 263.)
But how, in a world that fights to drag us down, do we keep our hearts happy, full of gratitude and thanksgiving?
The very first thing we must do is to open our eyes to all the blessings in the world around us.
Some days there may be little to be thankful for. Finding something to be grateful for might be as small as that you are still breathing—and perhaps at times, that doesn’t exactly feel like a blessing. Yet, you are alive and therefore able to face another day, able to look and see what other blessings may come your way.
Once you start looking for blessings, you are sure to find them. If they are difficult to find at first, keep looking, keep counting, and you will soon find that you truly do have a great deal for which to be thankful.
Once our eyes are open and we can see the blessings in our lives, the next thing we must do is to open our hearts. Often our hearts become so hardened that even when we can see that which we should be grateful for, it’s hard to crack that tough shell and let our hearts be filled. Yet fill it we must, with love, faith and thanksgiving.
To live in thanksgiving daily is the surest way to keep our hearts open to the opportunities around us and to ensure that we continue to recognize and receive continued blessings.
One of the best ways to show gratitude for our blessings is to strive to bless the lives of those around us. The Book of Mormon prophet King Benjamin taught his people:
“If you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice. …
“… If ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants” (Mosiah 2:20–21.)
If ever you are uncertain how to render thanks to God, King Benjamin told us that as well: “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).
A grateful heart can be your greatest boon in your life. Another former president of the LDS Church, Gordon B. Hinckley, once said:
“My plea is that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I am suggesting that as we go through life, we ‘accentuate the positive.’ I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment and endorse virtue and effort.” (Standing for Something , 101.)
Choice blessings await those who live in thanksgiving daily. “He who receiveth all things with thankfulness,” the Lord has promised, “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)
Among the blessings you can expect to receive, happiness is sure to be one of them. Develop a grateful heart and not only your heart, but your life will be filled with happiness.