"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
June 11, 2014
Why Gratitude?
by Kathryn Grant

Do you consider yourself a grateful person? Usually? Often? Sometimes? What is the ratio of gratitude to non-gratitude in your life?

Consider these reminders from the scriptures:

  • “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.”(D&C 59:7.)

  • “Be ye thankful.” (Col. 3:15.)

  • “Live in thanksgiving daily.” (Alma 34:38.)

  • “Be thankful unto [the Lord], and bless his name.” (Psalms 100:4.)

  • “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18.)

Most of us would agree the reminders are needed. Why do we sometimes not appreciate the wonderful blessings we have? Why do we sometimes miss the miracles around us as plentiful as air?

One reason may be that thankfulness takes focus: most of us probably aren’t naturally grateful without mindfully cultivating this virtue. In addition, we live in a culture of complaint: criticism and negativity provide fodder for everything from news broadcasts to sitcoms, from our public conversations to our private thoughts.

Likewise, we can’t discount the influence of the adversary, who, in the complete absence of gratitude, goes about stirring up contention and anger against that which is good (3 Nephi 11:29; 2 Nephi 28:20).

So is cultivating a grateful heart worth the effort? Absolutely. Let’s explore why.

Gratitude counteracts the tendency to focus on what’s wrong, to notice the worst in situations instead of the best. When we’re grateful we experience life as it is, rather than through the distorted lens of negativity.

Gratitude is a powerful antidote for pride. Gratitude makes it easier to live in the moment and acknowledge the blessings we already have, instead of feeling that we were entitled to something better and were therefore wronged because we didn’t get it.

While ingratitude depresses, gratitude uplifts ourselves and others. It’s hard to be unhappy when we’re grateful. In the words of Elder David A. Bednar, “A grateful person is rich in contentment. An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment.” (“The Windows of Heaven,” October 2013 General Conference.)

What’s more, gratitude is good for health. More than once, I’ve noticed that my energy level and concentration are better when I’m grateful.

As if these advantages weren’t enough, there are profound spiritual benefits as well. Because gratitude to God is an expression of faith, when we increase our gratitude we increase our faith. Grateful people experience the joy of “[standing] as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9). And according to Ann Voskamp in her book One Thousand Gifts, gratitude is a way to experience the presence of God.

So how do we bring the energizing, enobling power of gratitude more fully into our lives? That will be the topic of the next column.

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About Kathryn Grant

Kathryn Grant is a user assistance professional with a passion for usability and process improvement. She also loves family history and enjoys the challenge and reward of building her family tree.

As a child, she lived outside the United States for four years because of her father's job. This experience fueled her natural love of words and language, and also taught her to appreciate other cultures.

Kathryn values gratitude, teaching, learning, differences, and unity. She loves looking at star-filled skies, reading mind-stretching books, listening to contemporary Christian music, attending the temple, and eating fresh raspberries.

Kathryn teaches Sunday family history classes at the BYU Family History Library, and presents frequently at family history events. For more information, visit her Family History Learning Resources page

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