(find the talk here)
When I was a child, I was somewhat afraid of President Thomas S. Monson. He was a counselor in the First Presidency for as long as I can remember, but something about his face always made me think of a villain from a children’s story. Before you think I am being blasphemous, you should see a picture of him:
This is what I’m talking about! I’m not saying he looks evil – but he has that prominent nose and forehead that you usually see in villain characters.
Thankfully, the Spirit is a good testifier of truth, and when he was called as the prophet I was able to receive a testimony of his calling as prophet and President of the Church. It might also have something to do with his softened appearance as he has aged:
Doesn’t he look a lot more friendly now? I love this man. Even though I have never met him in person, I love him, and I know that he is a prophet of our Savior Jesus Christ. I know that he speaks the things that Heavenly Father would have us do, and I know that if we follow his teachings, we will be led closer to our Savior and to our Father in Heaven.
President Monson’s talk about gratitude was another of those that I really needed to read before I could understand what was in it for me.
President Monson quoted President Gordon B. Hickley who said, “When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives.” I think that I would feel a lot happier if I was always walking in gratitude. Sometime I feel discouraged, or stressed, or frustrated, but if I would truly appreciate the things I have, and express that gratitude vocally, I think that I would feel better about my life, and I wouldn’t get stressed so easily.
A grateful heart, then, comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives. This requires conscious effort – at least until we have truly learned and cultivated an attitude of gratitude… “feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
I have written many a thank you note, and forgotten to mail it. I am trying to remedy this and be sure to write thank you notes and actually put them in the mail, but I have yet to do so. I think I will start working on expressing my gratitude. I want to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, and like President Monson says – that requires a conscious effort. I definitely do not have a gratitude attitude as a natural part of my character, but I want to achieve that, and I believe that it is very important.
President Monson loves to quote authors, and he holds true to form in quoting Aldous Huxley who wrote, “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”
I happen to be “most human beings” in this case – well, at least one of them. I am always taking things for granted. A while ago I tried to remedy that by keeping a list on my phone which I called “My Thankful List” and I just kept listing things that I was thankful for.
Unfortunately, I’ve stopped doing that consistently, but I think I may start up again.
A quote from President Joseph F. Smith taught me why it is that I am happier when I have a gratitude attitude. “The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. … how careful we should be to cultivate, though the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man!”
Perhaps my favorite quote from this talk is this:
I am going to start being more conscious about my effort to have an attitude of gratitude. When I feel myself getting frustrated with a situation (which happens a lot – I am an easily frustrated kind of person) I am going to try to pay attention to something in the situation that I am grateful for. I have a feeling this is going to be really really good for me.
How do you cultivate an attitude of gratitude in your heart? Do you find yourself more easy going, happy, and less stressed when you are making an effort to be grateful rather than focus on the negative?