Sunday, May 11, 2014

Joy and Gratitude

I was asked to give a talk today in church! SO much pressure because the stake president was there…AND it was Mother's Day… PLUS the youth speaker and closing speaker were REALLY good…but I managed. I thought that my post today would be that talk! Here ya go! 

Good morning Brothers and Sisters, Happy Mothers day. How grateful I am for this opportunity to talk to you all today and I think for the first time ever I am actually grateful for the chance to give a talk, and I think that might only be because my topic is joy and gratitude. Joy and gratitude go hand in hand with one another. You can’t have gratitude without being joyful, and you cant find true joy without having a grateful heart. I pray that this opportunity will bring the spirit, and touch your hearts and will be with me today.
            I want to start off by talking about Joy in our lives. Our beloved prophet Thomas S. Monson stated.. Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family.  In the same talk titled FINDING JOY IN THE JOURNEY He talks about loving one another and serving each other. I have found some of the happiest people on earth seem to be Mothers. I have found that Mothers are those people that always have a smile on their face. They always walk around with a positive attitude and an uplifting compliment even when they are holding back the urge to pull out their hair. What does a mother do? A mother serves. Mothers are constantly immersing themselves in selfless service. Many mothers are unpaid taxi drivers, teachers, doctors and caterers, despite the fact that they would rather be sitting in the sunshine reading a book. What an examples all mothers are to each one of us everyday. They are always putting themselves last on the list and all without complaint, being grateful.
             One thing that is often talked about by apostles is living a life full of gratitude. Before writing this talk and doing the research, I never realized how much having gratitude can truly benefit us. I have found three wonderful blessings that come from having a attitude of gratitude.
ONE   According to True to the Faith we cannot be bitter, resentful or mean spirited when we are grateful. Think about how much easier it would be to keep the commandments if we could never feel bitter, or resentful towards others. I know that I have experienced plenty of times when I have felt bitter towards someone because of something that they had said or done to me. If I had decided to be grateful for my trials, or for those people in my life, the angry and the bitter attitude would have disappeared and would have been replaced with a positive attitude saving me from much discouragement and heartache. Having that new outlook towards your trials can provide you will joy and you will find yourself changing into a more Christ-like individual.
TWO Thomas S. Monson said, Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.  That is a promise that we can’t afford not to have. In our busy lives however, it can be incredibly hard to slow down enough to really think about all the things that Heavenly Father has blessed us with. It is so simple to over look things in life that we have been given. Rain for example. I have grumbled over excessive rain recently, being eager to see the sunshine and have warm weather. But I have applied gratitude into my life. What if we didn’t have rain? We would live in a pretty brown world. All this rain has allowed the grass and the flowers to grow, making those sunny days that much more enjoyable. For a while I kept a gratitude journal. Each day I would write something that I was grateful for, or a blessing that I had seen that day in my life. Even it was as simple as “I am grateful for the time I spent talking to my brother.” Each day I was able to reflect on the blessings Heavenly Father has given me, even the small things that are often taken for granted.  We don’t need to write down what it is we are grateful for as long as we express in our prayers our gratitude. It is easy to simply list in our prayers that we are grateful for the things in our lives, but we can make those prayers more meaningful by telling our Father in Heaven why we are grateful for things.
THREE   Sister Bonnie D. Parkin said, Gratitude is a spirit-filled principle… When we communicate gratitude, we can be filled with the spirit.  As we are filled with gratitude for all those things both good and bad in our lives, we will be close to the spirit. We will be more in tune with the promptings of the Spirit and we will be able to know what the Lord would have us do. Having a grateful mind-set will heighten our sensitivity to divine directions.
Each of the three things that I have mention that come from having a grateful attitude are things that will bring you joy in your life. As we express our gratitude and reflect on it, we will see how much we have in our lives, and we will come to realize the love that our Father in heaven has for us.
In a talk by ELDER JOSEPH B. WIRTHLIN, he tells a story of a man who is never satisfied. The man’s food was never cooked right he always found a reason to complain about his clothes, and if anything wasn’t done by him, it wasn’t done right. This man seemed to make a job out of complaining, frowning, lecturing, and mumbling about the incompetence of everyone around him. This man just happened to be married, which made this situation even worse. Anything his wife did was wrong, no matter what, and he let her know it. The wife found that the harder she tried, the more her husband was displeased with her. One night when she had had enough, the woman said, “I will tell you what, tomorrow I will do your chores, and you can do mine.” The man replied by telling his wife that there was no possible way that she could do the sowing, hoeing, and irrigating that needed to be done. But the woman was sure that she could do it and with man hesitantly agreed. The next day the woman went out and started doing the work in the fields while the man started doing the chores in the house, determined to show his wife how things should be done. Unfortunately everything the man tried to do…failed. He spilled the milk, let the pig in the house, burnt dinner, and ended up setting the house on fire. The woman came back to see the house in a pile of ashes and her husband covered in soot, she fixed dinner, and made a bed of straw for them to sleep on without saying a word. The man never complained about anyone again.
This story very clearly shows that the absence of gratitude has the ability to make someone miserable. We should always be humble to the things, which others can help us with, and be appreciative of the things we have. 
Elder Wirthlin later says, “Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character. We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all around them. They make others feel better about themselves. They tend to be more humble, more joyful, more likable.”
In Alma, we are told to “live in Thanksgiving daily”. How much joy could we fill our lives with if we lived with complete gratitude? What if all those around us lived with that same attitude of gratefulness? There would be no complaining, bad attitudes, but instead we would have joy and happiness and more laughter filling out lives.
President Gordon B. Hinckley has said: “Absence of gratitude is the mark of the narrow, uneducated mind. It bespeaks a lack of knowledge and the ignorance of self-sufficiency. It expresses itself in ugly egotism and frequently in wanton mischief. …“Where there is appreciation, there is courtesy, there is concern for the rights and property of others. Without it there is arrogance and evil.”                         
I often hear people around be talking about what they don’t have and speaking as if they will be unhappy until they have that item in their life. How often do we say “If only…”Or “when blank happens I will be happy” There will always be reasons to be upset, always reasons to want more, or better. But dwelling on the things, which are absent from out lives are the things that keep us from finding joy NOW. Each day is a day with new opportunity to look for things to be grateful for and not mumble about. Although it is easy to complain about things that we have to go through, it isn’t the best way. This semester, I had the chance to spend some time in a second grade classroom. There was a girl who happened to be upset nearly every time I came to visit which was about twice a week. Each time this student was upset the teacher would take her aside and talk to her. More often than not her advice was the same. “It takes more energy to be sad than it does to be happy, you can choose right now to make this a better day, look at all the things that you can do.”  The girl would then wipe her tears and reluctantly find another activity to do. This was not just good advice for a seond grader, but for me as well. I was able to realize that sometimes, I need to be grateful for what I do have and what I can do, not just ruin my day thinking about what I don’t have and can’t do.                              
  How can we have this attitude of gratitude, there are three simple things we can do, open our eyes to all the good, open our hearts to love and faith, and open our arms and reach out and serve.                                                                                                            I have never heard my mother complain, or any mother or that matter about their responsibilities. They open their eyes, hearts and arms to all the craziness that comes with the difficult task of raising children and I am personally blessed for their individual sacrifices.      
                                                                                                                  When the storms come, and the winds blow, the easiest thing we can do it complain and talk about how miserable we are. But the most Christ-like thing that we could do, is Thank God for our challenges and see the goodness which comes with it. In fact, we are commanded in Doctrine and Covenants section 59 “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.”  

As we have the attitude of gratitude we will be keeping the commandments of the Lord, we will not be mean or bitter, but soft and understanding. We will have a better understanding and appreciation of God’s love for each of us and we will have a better capability to feel of the spirit and be directed by our loving father in heaven.       
                                                                                                                                         Not only can we tell our father in heaven how grateful we are for him and our many blessings that we see daily, but we can also share our gratitude with those around us. Saying thank you to someone or acknowledging them out of the blue can easily make someone’s day. That’s a chance to share the joy that you feel with others. It is important that in this world of distractions that we remember to take a step back and appreciate the little things that we are sounded with.                                         
I think that it’s important to always remember the words of the song Count Your Many Blessings. The first verse says: “When upon life's billows you are tempest-tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings; name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

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