What is gratitude?
Gratitude is being aware of and appreciating blessings and kindnesses given to us.
Before we can express appreciation for something we first need to recognize that it is indeed a blessing from God. It is important to remember that God often works through others to bless us. So, every time we are a recipient of an act of kindness we should show appreciation to both the giver and our Heavenly Father for that act of kindness.
What can we be thankful for?
In the Book of Mormon King Benjamin gives a speech to his people and gives them instruction on living righteously. He speaks in Mosiah 2:19-24 on thankfulness.
19 And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!
20 I say unto you, my brethren, that 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, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another
21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
We should be thankful with our whole souls for the service given to us by others, that God has created and preserved us, and that we can live, move, and do according to our own will.
And that’s just the beginning. Throughout the scriptures we read about being thankful and the many things we have to be thankful for. In Doctrine and Covenants 59:7 we read the simplest instructions of all.
Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.
So, what are you grateful for?
How do we express gratitude?
We can express gratitude through sincere words of thanks and through actions that show our appreciation.
The words “thank you” are simple to say and when we say them sincerely we take the first step of expressing our gratitude. The second step is to show through your actions that you appreciate what someone has done for you. It’s easy to think of ways we can show gratitude to the people around us. It’s more difficult to find ways we can show our gratitude to our Heavenly Father. King Benjamin taught us in Mosiah 2:22 that, “all that [Heavenly Father] requires of you is to keep his commandments.”
How often should we express gratitude?
When Amulek was preaching to the people of his time, he taught them to “live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which [Heavenly Father] doth bestow upon you” (Alma 34:38). For the Strength of Youth tells us to “have a spirit of gratitude in all you do and say… Even in your most difficult times, you can find much to be grateful for.” We should work to make gratitude a habit.
What happens when we express gratitude?
An increased spirit of gratitude will bring increased joy into our lives.
Think of a time when you received a gift. Think about how you felt when you expressed gratitude. Now think of a time you gave a gift. Think about how you felt when the person you gave that gift to expressed their gratitude to you. Gratitude brings joy to the person who feels gratitude and anyone they share that gratitude with.
Heavenly Father has also promised us blessings for expressing our gratitude in Doctrine and Covenants 78:19.
And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.
I don’t know about you, but the promise that being thankful for the things we have will lead to more blessings sounds like a great promise to me.