Lessons in Gratitude

The story began when a prophet of God is commanded to warn the people of Jerusalem to repent or the city would be destroyed. Lehi was that prophet and did what the Lord asked him to do. In turn, the people hardened their hearts and sought to take his life. The Lord blessed Lehi for his obedience and told him what to do to preserve his life and the lives of his beloved family. This required a huge life change on their part.  They were commanded to leave taking only the necessities and left their home of comforts including all their gold, silver and precious things. They traveled for three days into the wilderness and then stopped and pitched their tents near a river.

As soon as they had everything set up in camp. He built an alter and thanked God. This is the second time I have counted in two chapters, that in the midst of great adversity, Lehi stopped and took time to show gratitude during a life altering experience.  What can we learn from his example? Think about it.

Vaughn E. Worthen, Ph.D. taught:

Gratitude is receiving significant attention in the emerging field of positive psychology. As a licensed psychologist, I have extensively researched the use of gratitude interventions in promoting well-being. I find that introducing these interventions into counseling at appropriate times is helpful in treating depression, reducing anxiety, and introducing a more positive focus to troubled relationships. Experiencing and expressing gratitude can help all of us—whatever our situation—lead fuller, richer lives.

     Current case studies and research show that cultivating and practicing gratitude can reduce symptoms in cases of mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Practicing gratitude can also lead to increases in optimism, vitality, happiness, a sense of well-being, and a greater satisfaction with life. Grateful people tend to generate more positive memories, reminding them of the good in their lives. Those with higher levels of gratitude are viewed as more empathetic and supportive, more forgiving, and more likely to assist others. Grateful people also report feeling less envious and more generous with their possessions. They thus enjoy better quality relationships.

     Gratitude also helps in coping with adversity. Those who practice it in times of adversity are more likely to seek and find a “silver lining” in their experiences. Finally, those who try to feel greater levels of gratitude report fewer physical complaints, more time spent in physical exercise, and better sleep duration and quality.

President Thomas S. Monson spoke of the power of gratitude when he stated,

“We can lift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude.”

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has suggested that,

“In some quiet way, the expression and feelings of gratitude have a wonderful cleansing or healing nature. … Gratitude brings a peace that helps us overcome the pain of adversity and failure.” Truly, following the words of prophets to live with a sense of gratitude invites a spirit of happiness into our lives.

One of the things that Dr. Vaughn Worthen suggested in cultivating a more grateful approach was to eliminate ungrateful thoughts. His entire article can be found here on lds.org. I am going to show how we can capture those thoughts and replace them as described in his article. I use a steno notebook for this exercise. I am going to use thoughts that may be geared towards God during adversity. What we do is write the negative thoughts on the right and the positive on the left. See below for my example.

Can you see the difference? Can you feel the difference between the two? One speaks of despair and the other of hope, faith and gratitude. When we are working with loved ones who struggle with addiction and we’re tempted to lash out at them, we could go to the steno book and write those negative thoughts out just as we would have spoke them, then prayerfully ponder the better way and write those words down. Take a pair of scissors and cut up the middle of the notebook, tear out the negative thoughts and be sure to destroy them. (A paper shredder is great for this) Then we hand them over to the Lord and thank Him for taking them from us.

Our loved ones need to hear what they are doing right, why we’re grateful for them. As we do this we will see an improvement in our relationship, an improvement in our desire to fight and do what they need to do will likewise grow and improve. Remember constant nagging, belittlement or expressed frustration may further fuel the problem as it is a means of escape during stressful periods. This goes for any aspect of life. Build them, they will grow. Tear them apart, they will continue to fall apart.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s