The Amazing Power of Gratitude
I believe with all my heart that the power of gratitude can bring amazing blessings into our lives. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of year. It’s a time to slow down and spend time with family and reconnect with loved ones who live afar. And it’s a time to remember how truly blessed we are to live when we do with the abundant modern conveniences we have. It’s a time to thank God for all that He has blessed us with—for a beautiful earth to live on, air to breathe, food to eat, clothes to wear, and so much more.
A Very Personal Story about the Power of Gratitude
In writing about the power of gratitude I’m going to get more personal than I generally do on my blog—or, at least, than I have tended to yet, since I’ve been focused on sharing content to help you win with money, rather than writing too much about my family and our own financial journey.
About seven years ago now—I can’t believe the time has gone by so fast!—my husband and I had been trying to have children for about five years. We had done fertility treatments and had eventually been able to get pregnant, but then we had a miscarriage. And then a couple more years had passed and we hadn’t been able to get pregnant again. We had talked about possibly becoming foster parents or adopting, but there was a part of me that just longed to be able to have our own children. I knew I would have been happy raising children that I hadn’t given birth to and that they would become like our own, but it was very hard to really give up on the idea of being able to have our own children. I had always grown up thinking I would go to college, get married, work for a little while, and then stay home to raise children. And things just weren’t working out according to what I had expected.
I had been praying and hoping for children for what seemed like ages, and honestly I was emotionally worn out. It was this same time of year—around Thanksgiving, just before the holiday season would begin. And I was hurting. Hurting thinking about another holiday season passing without having little kiddos running around to enjoy it with. And so I decided I needed to just let it go—leave it in the hands of God. I just wasn’t strong enough to carry that particular burden anymore, so I asked the Savior to carry it for me.
Focusing on Blessings Amplifies the Power of Gratitude
And I decided to focus on the many blessings that I did have to help me stop worrying about my troubles. So every day as I prayed in the morning and each evening, I spoke only of the blessings I was grateful for. In addition to the things I routinely give thanks for I made a goal to express my gratitude for at least five unique things as I prayed. It was fun and eye opening to realize how very many things I have to be grateful for. A wonderful family. The gospel. A loving Heavenly Father. Roses. Rainbows. The smell of fresh pine. And fresh baked bread. And freshly washed laundry. A roof over my head. Shoes (too many shoes!). Heat. Warm water. Abundant food. Indoor plumbing. A working furnace. Heaters and heating blankets. Hot cocoa. Sunrises. Sunshine. Beaches. A great job I love. An emergency fund. A car to drive. Clothes (again, too many!) to wear. Really, the list seems endless.
This experience really helped me to understand how very blessed I am. And I was able to turn outward and think more about others. I prayed this way—expressing thanks without asking for anything, except for a rare little prayer for help with something that I might have snuck in here or there—from around Thanksgiving time till around the beginning of the year. And a truly amazing thing happened. We had been going through another round of fertility treatments, and within a month (so by the end of January) we became pregnant with our first daughter. And we were able to have her without any problems or complications. And then we have been able to have two more children since then, our twins.
Learning a Powerful Lesson about the Power of Gratitude
When I was pregnant with the twins a couple of years later, it was again this time of year, and I decided again to express prayers simply of gratitude from Thanksgiving time till after the New Year. This time it was not because I had a burden I was trying to lighten but because I was so very, very grateful for being able to have children (multiple!) in my life and for the many other blessings I had as well. And it was a wonderful experience again. And during that time I came across an amazing plaque at the store that now I wish I would have bought. It shared this powerful message about gratitude: What if you only had tomorrow what you remembered to thank God for today?
So even though I had thought I had come up with a lot of things to be grateful for the first time I had done this a couple of years ago, that quote helped me to dig even deeper—and I worked to think of at least 10 things to be grateful for each day. And with a little thought, it wasn’t very hard.
We as humanity really are blessed beyond measure. Most of us have all that we need and much of what we want. When it comes to material prosperity, there has probably never been a better time to live.
Four Principles about the Power of Gratitude
The power of gratitude can be evident in our lives in many ways, including these four:
1. Gratitude helps us remember the many ways that we are blessed.
Expressing thanks for all we have helps us to remember our abundant blessings. As we take the time to count our blessings, we can see more clearly the many, many things we have to be grateful for.
2. Gratitude can bring even more (amazing) blessings into our lives.
When we take the time to thank God for the many blessings we have and we do our best to follow His teachings, then He often blesses us with even more. I firmly believe that the timing of getting pregnant again wasn’t just a coincidence. I believe that after focusing on thanking my Heavenly Father for the many blessings that we have we were then granted another we had been hoping and praying for, according to the Lord’s timing.
3. Gratitude invites us to look outward and focus on those around us in need.
When we realize how very blessed we are and how much we really have, we may feel compelled to help others who might be less fortunate than us. Whether we give of our time, our talents, our material wealth, or all of the above, we can do so much good—collectively—to make the world a better place. We don’t need government programs to take care of people—although they can do good things. All we really need to do is to, first, take care of ourselves to the very best of our ability, and then beyond that, help take care of others who can use a hand up.
4. Gratitude helps us to realize that we already have enough and helps us to be truly content with what we have.
When we take the time to appreciate what we have and decide to be content with what we have, we can come to understand that we really do have all that we need and that we don’t need more. And when we realize that we already have enough we can get off the hedonistic treadmill of continually wanting more and better stuff.
And that is excellent news for your wallet, because when you free yourself from always wanting more, you can put your money toward things like paying off debt to free up your income, saving an emergency fund and building additional savings to give yourself financial peace, and building up a large retirement fund so that you can retire in dignity and comfort in order to pursue interests such as traveling, finding new hobbies, volunteering, and spoiling grandkids.
The power of gratitude is real. When we take the time to thank God for all that we have, I truly believe that He then often blesses us even more. At this time of year, I hope you will take a few minutes to specifically thank your Heavenly Father for all that you have. You might even try giving prayers of gratitude every day throughout the holiday season. I know that if you do you will be blessed in amazing ways, whether spiritually, temporally, or both. May God bless you and your family this holiday season with peace and joy, and throughout the years.
Invitation to Share
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