Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Live in Thanksgiving Daily

Thanksgiving is a fun time; for most Thanksgiving is a time to get together with immediate and extended family, a break from school and/or work, an excuse to do nothing but eat too much food and watch football, and a time to go shopping. And, for those Christmas purists out there, Thanksgiving kicks off the Christmas season and you no longer have to resent Christmas decorations in the stores and Christmas music on the radio.

Perhaps for most this season brings thoughts and feelings of thanksgiving and we find ourselves in a more giving and grateful mood. A lot of people look forward to the holiday season and in general we are happier and more optimistic. One can attribute these warm, happy feelings of the holiday season to the decorations and the music and the fun clothes and Santa Claus. But I believe that those feelings originate from a deeper reason. I believe that the reason the holidays--beginning with Thanksgiving and climaxing with Christmas--bring such warm and happy feelings is because the holidays tend to produce feelings of gratitude and love. Thanksgiving prompts us to recognize all of the things for which we are grateful. We gather with family and friends and are surrounded by those for whom we love and care. Christmas should prompt us to be even more mindful of the selfless, compassion-filled life of our Savior. We hear and are involved in stories of selflessness and caring for those in need. When done properly, we find, make, and give gifts to express gratitude to important people in our lives.

Article of the Week

On Halloween in 2000 during a talk given at Brigham Young University, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917-2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, "[Gratitude] is a quality I have found in every happy person I know. It is a quality that instantly makes a person more likable and more at peace. Where there is an abundance of this virtue, there is happiness." His talk, entitled, "Live in Thanksgiving Daily," was reprinted in the September 2001 Ensign of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is the early featured article this week.

Think of what Elder Withlin is saying--he has given us the key to success and happiness in this life. "Gratitude turns a meal into a feast and drudgery into delight. It softens our grief and heightens our pleasure. It turns the simple and common into the memorable and transcendent. It forges bonds of love and fosters loyalty and admiration.

"Living in thanksgiving daily is a habit that will enrich our lives and the lives of those we love." As we recognize and express our gratitude for everything in this life and especially for our family and for Jesus Christ and His Atonement, we receive that peace and comfort promised by the Savior in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

"Live in Thanksgiving Daily"

I recognize that for some Thanksgiving and the holiday season may not be as memorable or enjoyable. Some may feel that they do not have so much for which to be thankful, or people with whom they can spend a few days off. The holiday and all the preparation of food for guests may just be another stressor in life. The beginning of the Christmas season may even bring bitter memories and unwanted feelings.

To those of you who feel this way, Elder Wirthlin said, "In the Book of Mormon we learn that we should “live in thanksgiving daily” (Alma 34:38). Isn’t that a wonderful thought to live in thanksgiving daily? Can you imagine how your life would improve if you lived in thanksgiving daily? Can you imagine how your life would improve if others did the same? Do you think the world would be a happier place? less stressful? less angry? more spiritual?"

He continued:

"We must let go of the negative emotions that bind our hearts and instead fill our souls with love, faith, and thanksgiving. . . .

"Pray with all your heart. Consider the love your Heavenly Father has for all His children. Open your heart to His cleansing word. Feast on the words of holy writ. Cherish the messages of modern-day prophets and apostles. Forgive others who have offended you. Don’t waste another moment feeling self-pity. Every day drain from your heart the feelings of resentment, rage, and defeat that do nothing but discourage and destroy. Fill your heart with those things that ennoble, encourage, and inspire."

Remember, to the one leper who returned and "fell on his face at [Jesus'] feet, giving him thanks," the Master Healer said, "thy faith hath made thee whole." All ten were cleansed of leprosy; but only the one who returned to express his gratitude for what the Savior had done was made whole and therefore received a fulness of joy (see Luke 17:11-19).

"As I Have Loved You"

Gratitude is a principle with a promise and is made manifest best through our actions.

"We can live in thanksgiving daily by opening our arms to those around us. When was the last time you told someone you love how much they mean to you? When was the last time you expressed your gratitude to someone who has always been there for you, someone who has sacrificed for you, someone whose heart has always been filled with hopes and dreams for you?

"When was the last time you unselfishly reached out to help another in need? Every time we cheer another’s heart, every time we ease another’s burden, every time we lift a weary hand, we show our gratitude to that God to whom we owe all that we have and all that we are. . . .

"The blessings that come from opening our arms to others are among the choicest this earth has to offer."

Remember the challenge I gave you last week? To express gratitude and love to your parents and to one other person? Did you do it? Well here is a prophet of God telling you the same thing and promising you blessings.

The challenge this week? Find a burden to ease, a weary hand to lift, or another way in which you can serve and show your gratitude to that God to whom we owe all that we have and all that we are. Once again, I'd love to hear your stories and results of your actions here on the blog, on facebook, or via email @

Just as President Monson says at the end of the video at the beginning of this post, "A grateful heart, then, comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives. This requires conscious effort—at least until we have truly learned and cultivated an attitude of gratitude."

As we go into this holiday season I have a renewed desire to live a more grateful life and encourage each of you to do the same. Gratitude is something that we all can work on and what better time to create or strengthen an attitude of gratitude than during the holidays. Perhaps you could begin by expressing thanks to the Savior for His Atonement, for without Him, nothing would be possible.