At the beginning of November we received a lesson on Gratitude in our Relief Society. Sister Garrick gave each of us a little notebook to write five things we are grateful for each morning. We were to think of those things throughout the day. I was happy to fulfill this assignment and when I missed a day I would write the date on the top of the page and leave it blank so that I would be reminded that I needed to be more grateful in the future. I will probably purchase my own Gratitude Journal when this one has been filled because I like doing it. I like thinking of things. I have been amused but also contemplative over the things that I’ve written; from my children to the color Pink.
I have also thought about why I feel grateful. It seems that I have been discontent over many things throughout my life and I believe that discontent is bred from lack of gratitude so I have had to give this some thought. Why am I discontent? What things make me feel that way? Is it real? Is it something I can change? What connects us to gratitude or the lack thereof? I have had a lot of ideas pass through my head including selfishness, pride and expectations.
Selfishness as a lack of gratitude seems obvious to me. If you are totally obsessed with yourself than it is difficult to be grateful for anything. Selfishness and pride go hand in hand so if you feel proud or another word for it would be entitled than you would not be feeling grateful. If you given what you feel you deserve than you just feel justified, not necessarily grateful.
The idea of Expectations leading to ingratitude was a new idea for me. If we have certain expectations of a person or event we are likely to be disappointed and sometimes disappointment is ingratitude. To expect has some positive meanings as well, however the problem I have with it is when you pin your hopes or happiness on someone else’s behavior you are really setting yourself up for unhappiness and frustration. When we feel disappointment in someone else we are expressing a certain kind of judgment based on our perspective. That can be very touchy. I believe it is right for a parent to have certain expectations of their children, why bother teaching them otherwise? By the same token, I would expect for a teacher to have expectations of their students. However, even that can be tricky because if the teacher is inadequate than the students will not learn so their expectations are moot.
See? It’s very tricky.
Overall I believe that be grateful means you look at things as if the glass were half full. You strive to be positive and seek the good even in bad situations. Even as I write this I am icing my back because I did something to it and I can’t stand up straight. I do not have time for this. It is holiday season, not a good time to be sick or hurt or confined or any of those restrictive things. However, what a great excuse to sit and write! It is also an opportunity for others to serve me!
I learned long ago to watch what I say because if you say, “It can’t get worse,” it will. If you say “I would never!” Then you probably will. And if you say, “I will be happy when…” You will probably not find happiness in anything. All those thoughts promote ingratitude. Instead think, “What am I supposed to be learning?” or “Who is to benefit from my being here?” and, I believe almost most importantly, “What can I do to help someone else be happier today?” because the best way to find happiness is to lose yourself in another. The best way to show gratitude is to share of yourself, your time and your energy.