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gratitudeHappiness and gratitude are inseparably linked.

While we may not be able to choose to just be happy, especially when times are hard, we can always choose to be grateful.  We can be grateful in our trials, even if we are not at a point of being grateful for our trials.  And even in the darkest of days, there can always be something that we can find to be grateful for.

Gratitude is a choice. There are things you can choose to do that will bring more gratitude and happiness into your life. Get ready to get active as we go through the list.  Here are the 5 things we can do daily to feel more gratitude in our lives.  Observe, Serve, Express, Record & Pray

Observe

Look around you.  Look for things that make you smile.  Is there a piece of art hanging in your home that you love? Are there pictures of family members? Is there a something decorating your home, because it was a gift from someone who was thinking of you?  What about outside your window?  Do you have snow right now? Or is it a beautiful sunny day?  Are there trees or flowers or clouds?  Maybe there is someone walking their dog?  All of these things bring beauty and variety to our lives. Think a little deeper.  Do any of these things have more meaning to them than just beauty?

Just outside my window is a rather large and sturdy snow fort that my son helped to make last week with a bunch of neighbor kids.  I look at it and I’m so grateful that he got to have that experience, that I got to see him out there for hours having fun, and that he has made good friends to be creative with.  I’m also grateful for the skills that he learned in creating something like this.

Look around and feel the gratitude for all the small blessings put together that can remind you of loved ones, and that can help you know that people care.

gratitude for simple things

Serve

Be prepared to give service to someone else, every day, showing that you have been blessed enough to be able to help others.  It doesn’t have to be big.

  • Returning the grocery cart so that it won’t ding someone’s car.
  • Hold the door for someone.
  • Leave a little note of cheer for a loved one, or on the car window of a stranger.
  • Carry some spare cash in your car or in a pocket to share with someone in need.
  • Smile and say hello to people who you see.

By preparing to give to others, it naturally helps you to see the gifts that you have in your own lives. If you can give money to someone in need, it means that you are blessed to have your needs taken care of.  If you can help someone with physical labor, you are blessed with a body that can work and is strong.  Spreading cheer through a smile or a little note shows that you are grateful for happiness in this moment and you are willing to share it.   Think of what you can do to share today.

Express

Express your gratitude to the people in your life. There are many ways to show your gratitude to others.

  • Say “thank you” in person and right away when you notice someone doing something kind. It only takes a second, and it can be an instant mood enhancer.
  • Compliment someone when you notice something you enjoy about them… whether it is their appearance, their cheerfulness, or anything else that you admire. I remember one time when my kids were little, we took them to a restaurant, which can be a little challenging and sometimes embarrassing. On this occasion a fellow diner, came to our table to complimented us on how well behaved our kids were.  I can’t tell you how meaningful it was to hear that, and obviously I’ve remembered it these many years later.
  • Write a thank you note and mail it to someone who has touched your life. I have a small collection of the thank you notes I have received over the years.  They are so precious to me. Sending a card in the mail is so rare now, but it is something so meaningful when it is received. Some of the most meaningful cards are the ones that were sent as an appreciation for small things.  A very busy woman at my church sends out thank you notes regularly, to show gratitude for small acts of kindness, or comments made during lessons, or something she got out of a talk that was given. It was so meaningful when my son got a thank you card from her, when he gave a talk in church.
  • Give a hug when it looks needed or is appropriate. It may not always be appropriate, but a friend came up to me yesterday and hugged me and said “I just want to share the love, physically.” It was a fleeting moment, but it was a meaningful connection between friends.

Record

Record your blessings.  Whether you use a journal, a notebook, or a to-do app on your phone, there is somewhere that you can begin recording the many blessings that come into your life.  I have a special journal that I keep by my bed so that I’ll remember to use it.  I try to write down each day 3 things that I did well, 3 things that I’m grateful for, and 3 things that I want to do better at.  Sometimes there is overlap, but it’s surprising how every day there can be some new thing to be grateful for.  This was a new project for me, because writing long journal entries, as much as I love them sometimes, were often too hard to remember to get around to regularly.  By making gratitude a part of my bedtime routine, it helps me to remember to look for those things to be grateful for.  Think of some daily habit that you engage in, where you could add recording of gratitude too. If you exercise daily or meditate or read or plan, see if you can put gratitude into part of the routine, and you will also be more likely to feel gratitude in your life.

Pray

Use your recorded gratitude in prayer. Show the Lord that you recognize the tender mercies that He sends down to you to help you in your life.

I heard a story a few weeks ago of a young woman who had a very difficult life.  Her father was killed while she was very young, and her family struggled to stay afloat financially.  But she always looked for the tender mercies of the Lord in her life.  For her it was especially meaningful whenever she saw a butterfly. She loved butterflies and when she would see one, whether in a painting, on someone’s clothes or a real live butterfly, it reminded her that the Lord is watching out for her.

The Lord does send tender mercies upon us all the time.  All too often we don’t notice them, and that can cause us to forget how merciful our Heavenly Father truly is. Take the time to thank Him in prayer every day for all the blessings and gifts that He gives to us on a regular basis.

Making gratitude a part of our lives may not be easy, or come naturally at first, but as we try to incorporate it into our lives, it will bring greater blessings of happiness and friendship.

Decide to start today and  remember these 5 things, Observe, Serve, Express, Record & Pray and you are on your way to living a fuller more blessed life.

aa laura

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8 years ago I had 5 children under the age of nine. The day’s seemed long then, so very long. I homeschooled my two oldest while trying to keep the three littles entertained. Let’s be honest here. I was also trying to keep them from destroying my house, or each other,  while I tried to teach the other two. My husband was starting a new job and we had just moved across states. It was a crazy time. A good crazy, mostly.

In the midst of all this chaos I heard a talk that changed me. Here is an excerpt from my journal

The talk that meant the most to me, that filled me with what I need to do, that gave me hope for joy and peace, was Henry B  Erying’s. It seemed as though God turned on a light bulb when he spoke. It was as if I was being told that if I can more fully do what he suggested I would find joy I never thought possible.

I was reminded of this talk again last week and have listened to it several times since. One deep pondering worthy question has stood with me through the years. It’s a question he asks himself everyday before writing in his journal.

Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?”

He goes on to say,

As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.”

8 years have brought with it trials unforeseen and joy beyond comprehension. And also a deeper understanding of how to heed this counsel.

Gratitude is more than just recognizing the good in your life. It is seeing that even in the difficult and trying times, God is showing you He is ever present. But all too often we forget to even see it. We get bogged down by life and don’t even say thank you to our loving Father for what He is doing. Recognizing He has something mightier in store for you than what we would settle for.

Being the month of gratitude, I thought a little bit differently about this talk then I had 8 years ago.  Back when I had just those 5 cute littles at home, I felt impressed to write down more of what was good in my life. I looked for the positive, knowing I was planning on blogging and I was never disappointed.  I was blessed with a recollection of the joyous times we shared. And my gratitude for motherhood increased.

Today, however, I feel impressed to seek for God in my life. To focus my gratitude towards what He has already given to me. To see more fully how He has been guiding me in the path He has in store for me and my family. To recognize what has been placed before me, even when I have been blind to His mercy and was unwilling to see it.  That I can let go of the fear that holds me back, and I can more fully trust Him and His timing and His sometimes mysterious (to me) ways.

Gratitude is this beautiful thing that does not give you more of what you desire but simply magnifies what is already right before your eyes. What you could not see becomes a huge mountain of hope, joy and peace. The mundane is taken over by contentment. Sorrow is replaced by happiness. Really it’s like magic.

Gratitude is magic.  It changes everything without changing a thing.

Whatever it is you need in your life, more joy, more trust, more patience, ponder how God has already given that to you. Write down the thoughts that come. Find the magic by picking up the magnifying glass of gratitude.

Take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life.” Deuteronomy 4:9

Open your eyes and go make today magical. SUSAN

09. November 2015 · 1 comment · Categories: Hope, Joy
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“What do I have to be grateful for?”

Have you ever heard someone who is going through a difficult time say something like this?  Have you ever caught yourself saying something like this?  It is true that there are a lot of difficulties that go along with life, and sometimes it can be really easy to get caught up in all the things that seem to be going wrong, or that you lack in your life.  But… there are reasons that we need gratitude in our lives.

Fear not, in everything give thanks

Gratitude isn’t just nice, it is necessary.

Did you know that there are 194 references in the scriptures to thankfulness and thanksgiving?

In Mosiah 18: 23 it says

And he commanded them that…every day they should give thanks to the Lord their God.”

Psalms 118:29 states

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”

In Doctrine and Covenants 59:21, it says

And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things…”

Why is gratitude so important?

God wants us to be gracious.  He also wants us to be happy. He is a loving father, who wants us to come back to Him, in righteousness and glory. Gratitude is one important step on this road. Following are 3 reasons why we should seek out gratitude in our lives.

1- Grateful people are happier people

When you choose to find things to be grateful about, you take the focus off of your troubles. The focus changes to things that are blessings in your life. It only seems logical that when you feel blessed you will feel happy.  But this theory transfers over to real world applications.

There have been multiple studies to show that people who are grateful have higher levels of happiness in their lives.  One such study, found here, happened like this…

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

Happiness doesn’t come out of having an abundance of good things and an absence of troubles.  We all have troubles. They are naturally a part of life. But for those of us who can recognize their blessings and express regular gratefulness, whether to God in prayer, to ourselves in our journaling, or to others who bless our lives, a greater sense of well being and happiness will come into our lives.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (1917–2008) said gratitude “is a quality I have found in every happy person I know”

grateful and happy

2- People who express gratitude, find more things to be grateful for

Once you start looking for things to be grateful for, more things begin to come to your mind. The natural outcome of looking for things to be grateful for, by “counting your blessings,” is that you realize that there is always just one more thing to be grateful for, the list could truly be endless.  Watch this video and see what some people in New York have to be grateful for, and see if it doesn’t remind you of things you are grateful for, that you may have overlooked.

I especially like the young man who says he is thankful for the future opportunities.  Which brings me to the last reason why we should be grateful.

3- Showing gratitude opens us up to receive future blessings.

When we show gratitude to others, it increases our feelings of good will toward each other, and helps to build and/or strengthen the relationship.  With stronger relationships with the people in our lives, we have more opportunities to help and bless them, and they in turn will continue to further bless our lives. So maybe gratitude will help us to build our circle of friends, along with creating a strong network of family and friends.

The next place we should show gratitude is to God, considering all of the scriptures that give us specific instruction to do so. When we thank God for our blessings, it shows Him that we recognize His hand in “all things” including our own lives.  He loves us and He surely sends blessings to us in greater abundance than we know. By taking the time to count our blessings and recognize and express gratitude for those blessings, we are allowing the Almighty to continue to be a part of our lives, and this will invite future blessings that we may not even be able to comprehend.

In Doctrine and Covenants 78:19 we are promised

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”

Does it get any better than that?

Over the next few weeks, leading up to Thanksgiving, we will share more about gratitude, and how we can more fully incorporate it into our lives.

aa laura

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 As I headed to the airport over a week ago a I came across a giant and slightly scary sand storm. I was already running slightly behind and didn’t have the luxury to pull over like other cars did. I white-knuckled my way through and prayed I would be guided even though my vision was limited. A peace came over me and a calm settled in. For a brief moment I felt as though unseen hands were on my hands assuring me of heavenly protection. I was going to be ok and I would get safely to the airport.

I pulled up to the long-term parking and felt relieved I had arrived sooner than I had expected. That is, until I stepped on the tram. When I announced which terminal I was departing from the driver questioned me. Lucky for me another passenger informed me I was at the wrong airport. Panic set in. Who goes to the wrong airport? Me.

Apparently there are two airports in the same town 45 minutes apart. One is tiny and so I didn’t know it existed. I do now. I quickly ran to my car and punched in the new location while tears began to fill me eyes. How was I going to make it?

I prayed again hoping I would get there on time. Hoping I could somehow defy the odds and make it much quicker than GPS estimated. I don’t know how but God softened my heart and helped me come to a peaceful place. He knew what I was trying to do. If I didn’t make it, He could help me with a plan B. And if plan B didn’t work maybe there was a reason.

There have been times in the past few weeks where I have felt myself come to trust a little more. Understanding that my ways are not God’s ways. In those moments of accepting I have seen His hand more prominently as would again become evident as the I arrived at the airport.

As soon as I got there I found my flight had been delayed by an entire hour. Not only did I now make it on time, I had time to spare. God answered my prayer in a very real and tangible way. One I could not dispute.

I did not need this experience to have faith in God and His great love and awareness for me. But I felt a growing understanding of how He wants to bless His children. How much He is waiting to help us if we will trust not only that He can but that He will. And trust that He has a grander picture then my small perspective can understand.

As we begin this month of gratitude I cannot help but feel thankful for the knowledge that God is ever-present in our lives. This experience was unique for me. Moments like these help to sustain me when I can’t see His hand so clearly.