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June 11, 2014
Light for My Path
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:

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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