Latter-day Saint Life

Elder Uchtdorf's One-Word Answer to What We Need to Overcome Trials and Grow


The following is an excerpt from Ed J. Pinegar's book, The Little Book of Gratitude.

A few years ago, when I was serving in the Manti Utah Temple, we were having our annual temple devotional. Then-President Uchtdorf and his sweetheart Harriet were the speakers. It was a glorious day. Everyone felt a fullness of the Holy Spirit, and all were uplifted and edified.

Following the meeting, we had a light lunch with our invited guests and President and Sister Uchtdorf. At the conclusion of our luncheon, President Uchtdorf gave a short expression of gratitude and then asked if anyone had a question he could answer. Several people asked questions, and the answers were well received. Then he asked for one last question.

One of the sisters who had helped prepare the luncheon asked, "President Uchtdorf, what is it that we need to have in order to grow, to become, to be able to handle the burdens, problems, and trials we have in this life?"

As I sat right across from him and looked into his eyes, I could see enlightenment. After a couple of seconds, he said, "Gratitude." My heart resonated with his response, knowing by spiritual witness that truth had been spoken.

Following this impactful experience with President Uchtdorf, Ed J. Pinegar shared four personal insights about gratitude:

1. Gratitude expressed can overcome desires to consume and possess.

Sometimes people feel that having things is equal to being someone. But gratitude for the simple things of life soothes the mind from the obsession of possessions, fills the heart with joy, and infuses the mind with well-being. Gratitude destroys materialism.

2. Gratitude has the capacity to release us from greed and envy.

Gratitude keeps our heart soft and broken and our spirit contrite. Gratitude helps us receive love and give love; it brings thanksgiving for all things and makes what matters most the most important, for gratitude understands.

3. Gratitude is an emotion.

Emotions are often mercurial in one’s life. The cerebral cortex is the part of the brain that makes rational decisions regardless of our emotions. We often need cortical override—logic over emotion—to behave in a moral and civil manner. We must be careful not to be subject to our negative emotional feelings during those times when we don’t care about life. To make gratitude a power, we must make it part of our character.

4. Gratitude can become a constant source of strength to others and ourselves.

Gratitude has no place for a self-defeating attitude. Gratitude has no place for being a pessimist about our life’s lack of perfection. Gratitude helps us not only endure unbearable situations but also gain appreciation from the experience. We can uplift and nourish others. . . .

At Thanksgiving dinner, we have a tradition of going around the table and expressing gratitude for blessings in our lives. This is a good yearly family tradition that would be a great daily tradition. Expressing gratitude on a daily basis would be wonderful at dinnertime or bedtime, whether to a friend, a parent, a family member, or Heavenly Father in our prayers. It is a wonderful habit, and the result is a more satisfying, hopeful, and enjoyable life.

Lead image from The Church News. This article originally ran on LDS Living in 2016.

Learn to increase joy and gratitude in your own life with Ed J. Pinegar's The Little Book of Gratitude, available at Deseret Book.

Countless works have been written on how to turn adversity into opportunity, sorrow into joy, and weakness into strength. But what if there were a way to achieve each of these transformations—and many more—by making just one simple choice? Within the pages of this inspiring volume, bestselling author Ed J. Pinegar shares the life-changing key to greater peace and happiness: choosing to be grateful.


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