I began this blog several years ago with a post about gratitude. It's been on my mind again recently, especially as I have felt that it has been key to my happiness in the last couple months. And considering that in a few days it will be November--the month for celebrating our blessings--perhaps this post is well timed. :)
I believe that gratitude--deep, sincere, true gratitude--is a gift of the spirit. We should be seeking for it. Along with our continual prayers of thanks, we should be asking to recognize even more blessings and that we might feel even more genuine gratitude for that which we have. I believe that God answers these prayers with increased clarity of perspective which in turn leads to humble, sincere gratitude.
We can and should do our part as we seek for greater gratitude by actively pursuing greater perspective. This is done through intentional thinking and attention to reality.
To illustrate, I love my daughters, and I am always grateful for them. But my normal gratitude paled in comparison when one night a year or so ago a dear sweet lady in my ward told me and a few others the story of losing her three-year-old daughter. I wish I could remember the details she related surrounding her death, but I believe it was some type of sudden illness and it took her very quickly. At that time my oldest was three, and it was all too easy to imagine myself in this woman's shoes. I had to hold back the sobs, though the tears fell freely.
She was calm--peaceful even. Granted, this experience happened over twenty, perhaps thirty, years ago. But still, her serenity in telling the story was remarkable and left a lasting impression on me.
I vowed that night to never take my time with my children for granted again.
I have. I'm not perfect. But a brief passing thought about that night and that woman's story is enough to remind me of how truly deeply grateful I am for my beautiful girls.
I try to remind myself every morning how blessed I am to have this day. Time is my most precious resource to spend and use wisely or waste as I will. I am grateful every day for having a body that works right, if not always flawlessly. I am grateful for my husband and the love that we share. I'm grateful for his partnership and support. I'm grateful for our beautiful apartment and truly wonderful ward.
Any time I can sense that I am not valueing a certain blessing as I ought, I take a silent moment to consider some of the possibilities, the alternatives that so many experience.
When I feel sick and tired of being pregnant, I try to remind myself how few times I'm going to experience this miracle happening in my body. I try to remember how many people, many close friends even, who long to conceive but can't. Or women who have endured miscarriages and still births--sometimes many! Would they be complaining about little baby kicks keeping them up all night?
Anytime you find yourself lacking the appropriate "attitude of gratitude" you can imagine losing that blessing tomorrow, or someone less lucky than you listening in on your thoughts, or perhaps what the bare minimum of existence is and you will realize how above and beyond we live. Truly ours are lives of abundance.