This perspective on three popular holidays placed close together on the calendar encourages us to experience the traditions associated with those days not as rote routines but as an invitation to improve upon ourselves. Seen in this light, Thanksgiving then becomes more than just a day to reflect on our gratitude. It’s more than just thank you. It’s an invitation to adopt gratitude as a lifestyle.
Let it define you
Indeed, gratitude properly understood is more than giving thanks. Gratitude is a state of being. When we’re truly grateful, gratitude becomes so infused within us that it defines us. We feel it so intensely we can’t help but broadcast it to all around.
And those around us will want to spend more time around us. Let’s face it; grateful people are simply more pleasant people. They are more easy to please and more quick to please others.
Thus, when it becomes a defining characteristic, gratitude gives birth to many other virtues. Grateful people more willingly have compassion and render service. Grateful people are more humble and more easily taught. Grateful people are more cheerful and friendly.
This is more than just saying thank you when appropriate. This is more than remembering to include thanks in our prayers. This is gratitude as a lifestyle.
Start with prayer
So of course that idea begs the question: How do we adopt a lifestyle of gratitude? What changes can we make so expressions of gratitude become not just a rote activity or compliance with an excepted norm but rather a manifestation of our character?
For me, the answer to such questions lies in a practice I adopted some time ago. When I kneel to offer my morning prayers, I do not ask for anything. Instead, I simply express gratitude.
I struggled at first with this practice. That’s to be expected since I wasn’t used to it. But as I persisted, it became easier for me to think of things for which I’m grateful and to express gratitude for them.
Eventually the practice evolved into expressing thanks for blessings I have not yet received. For example, heading into my recent midterm exams, I of course thanked heaven for being able to study and progress towards a career of my choice, for help in completing assignments, and for assistance in learning as I prepared for my exams. But I also thanked God for the help He would yet offer me.
And He did help me. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked, but I did OK. And I again offered thanks, this time for what He had given me.
Embrace the lifestyle
Adopting this practice of expressing only gratitude in my morning prayers has been instrumental in my efforts to adopt a lifestyle of gratitude. Spending the first several minutes of my day immersed in gratitude colors the rest of my day, imbuing it with a spirit of gratitude that influences me in my work and my interactions with other people.
I’ve also felt it inspire other virtues within me, such as a greater tendency to be kind to others, a greater propensity to help others where I can, and a greater faith that the Lord will provide for me. In conjunction with the increase of virtue has been a decrease of vice. I’ve felt less desire to steal or cheat because gratitude has inspired me with feelings of abundance and plenty. And I’ve felt less desire to covet because gratitude has reminded me of the Lord’s tender mercies and His plan to bless me with what I truly need.
Gratitude is more than just thank you; it’s a lifestyle. When we exercise our efforts to adopt gratitude as a lifestyle, the Lord blesses our efforts by blessing us with the fruits of gratitude. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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