I’ve been thinking about gratitude a lot this last month (for obvious reasons). I’ve been wanting to do a Choose Joy post on it for a while, but there’s so much to say about finding joy in gratitude that I delayed until I could get my thoughts arranged. Well, November is nearly over, and I still don’t have my thoughts organized (which I hate), but some of my best posts have been spur of the moment.
Gratitude and Joy
The idea of being grateful when you’re depressed or miserable or struggling seems impossible. Because, you wonder, why should you be grateful? I understand this feeling, the desire to wallow in self-pity. But it doesn’t work. Happiness is not found through self-pity; it’s found through gratitude.
Did you know that there’s something called resilience training? (I didn’t; I learned this in Church yesterday.) I guess the multitudes of broken men and women coming back from war have finally spurred the military to look into ways to keep these poor people whole. And they came up with resilience training. One of the steps is “Hunt for the Good.” Maybe you’d recognize it as “Count Your Many Blessings.” If the military can connect focusing on the positive in your life with happiness and overcoming negativity, then maybe the step between joy and gratitude isn’t that big.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in his talk Grateful in Any Circumstances:
“We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?
“Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges.
“This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind.”
He goes on to say that gratitude is an act of faith in God. I believe this. You see, the year following the death of my brother, I started a “Three Good Things.” Every day, I posted on Facebook three good things that happened that day. For nearly a year I did this until I felt the claws of grief recede. Counting my blessings helped me shake off the depression of loss.
What You Should Do
If you’re going through something hard, if you’re struggling, I encourage you to hunt for the good. Write down at least one positive each day. Just one. If you have more, then jot them down as well. Keep a list, and read through your blessings regularly.
I promise that if you do this, you’ll find your perspective improves. You might not suddenly have a perfect life, but you’ll be more able to deal with the hard because of the good you see. True gratitude leads to happiness.