For the thought, watch the Mormon Message, "In the Spirit of Thanksgiving."
For more information on this topic, read "Grateful in Any Circumstances" by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf in the May 2014 Ensign.
"My Heavenly Father Loves Me" (Children's Songbook, 278)
"Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things" (D&C 59:7).
When we focus on blessings, expressing gratitude along the way, we will become increasingly aware of all that has been so generously shared with us. We notice what we're thinking about, don't we?
My friend Sharon told about a friend who did this exercise with her school class (an activity that would be great to try with your family): She would tell them, "Look around the room and find all the things you can that are purple." After they had a few minutes to do so, she had them close their eyes. Then she said, "Okay, now tell me all the things you saw that were yellow." And they couldn't do it. That's because they had focused so intently on the purple that they didn't even notice the yellow things."
Contentment and gratitude work much the same. When we focus on what we don't have, pretty soon that's all we can see, so we become discontented, and whiny, and unsatisfied. But when we focus on our many amazing blessings, we become more and more aware of them, and thus more and more content and humble and grateful. And I might add, happier.
(Mary Ellen Edmunds, You Can Never Get Enough of What You Don't Need, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005], p. 153.)
"There is an old story of a waiter who asked a customer whether he had enjoyed the meal. The guest replied that everything was fine, but it would have been better if they had served more bread. The next day, when the man returned, the waiter doubled the amount of bread, giving him four slices instead of two, but still the man was not happy. The next day, the waiter doubled the bread again, without success.
"On the fourth day, the waiter was really determined to make the man happy. And so he took a nine-foot-long loaf of bread, cut it in half, and with a smile, served that to the customer. The waiter could scarcely wait for the man’s reaction.
"After the meal, the man looked up and said, 'Good as always. But I see you’re back to giving only two slices of bread.'
"My dear brothers and sisters, the choice is ours. We can choose to limit our gratitude, based on the blessings we feel we lack. Or we can choose to be like Nephi, whose grateful heart never faltered. When his brothers tied him up on the ship—which he had built to take them to the promised land—his ankles and wrists were so sore 'they had swollen exceedingly,' and a violent storm threatened to swallow him up in the depths of the sea. 'Nevertheless,' Nephi said, 'I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.'" (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Grateful in Any Circumstance," Ensign, May 2014)
Play this game, "If you were sent to an island where you would be alone for several months, what are ten things you'd want to take with you?" Share your lists with each other and ask questions such as, "But could you get along without __________?"
After you've figured out the essential things you couldn't live without, have each family member write a note to someone they're grateful for, whether it's a friend, teacher, or family member.
(Mary Ellen Edmunds, You Can Never Get Enough of What You Don't Need, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005], p. 77.)
Lead image from Getty Images.
Read Ed J. Pinegar's The Little Book of Gratitude for Latter-day Saints, available at Deseret Book and deseretbook.com. Within the pages of this inspiring volume, find out the life-changing key to greater peace and happiness: choosing to be grateful.