Monday, November 10, 2008

CHANGE: The Gratitude Edition

With Thanksgiving upon us, what better time to introduce GRATITUDE as a way of change? I know I always use my toddler as an example, and I have to again. When I really pay attention, my little guy teaches me SO MUCH! For one thing, he's really good at saying "thank you." And he's thankful for the smallest things..."Mom, thanks for making me pancakes!" "Thanks for getting my shoes." "Thanks for the water." "Thank you for finding my legos." "Thanks for buying me this yogurt." The list could go on. We've taught him to say "thank you," and "thank you" he says. A lot.
There was a time in my life where I was pretty depressed. I was a missionary for the LDS Church in cold, dark Finland. It was in-the-way-negatives-freezing. The people weren't very receptive to our message. The language was hard. I was tired. And did I mention that it was dark and cold? It was difficult not to focus on the hard stuff--not to complain with my brain and my mouth.
At some point I realized that my situation wasn't going to change, but that if I was going to survive mentally, I had to change. My companion and I decided to come home every night and say a prayer of gratitude. We weren't going to ask for anything. We were merely going to recognize the good that had happened that day, and say, "thank you."
It was amazing. Nothing changed, but the way I felt did. I was noticing small things--a smile from a stranger, a warm bus, and many, many small miracles. Miracles that would have gone unnoticed if we hadn't decided to mentally take note, and to thank.
For me, this was a major turning point. One of life's BIG a-ha moments. Wonderful things happen EVERY DAY. We just need to notice.
Our world and country are in turmoil, as well as many of our personal lives. We can do many things to change our circumstances, but many things are out of our control. Instead of focusing on the negative, try focusing on the positive. What are you thankful for? What good things happened to you today? Try keeping a "gratitude journal," saying a prayer of "thanks" at the end of the day, or just trying to be grateful in your heart and mind for life's little miracles.
This also works great in marriage and other personal relationships. If your marriage is suffering, list the things you are grateful for in your partner. Nothing will really change, but as you notice the positive, see what happens. Things will start to change. For the better.
In this month of Thanksgiving, what little (and big) things do you have to be thankful for? Give us all some ideas as we change our attitudes with gratitude!


Missy said...

Nicely said. Beautiful thoughts that I agree with completely.

Kimberly said...

I am so grateful for my health, family, and talents! Without these things in my life, I would be VERY depressed!

Melissa said...

Gratitude really is the key to a happier life. I heard once that Finland is the hardest mission in the church. I don't know if that is still true. It sounds like it was a challenge but good for you for seeing the good.

Jake and Jessica said...

I am grateful for good friends, who are willing to do anything and everything for me. I am grateful for those who allow me to serve and help me to serve. I always feel better when I am able to help others.

GrandmaCathy said...

I LOVED what you said here. You are wise beyond your years ! ! !
. . . and so is your 2 year old.

Aly said...

Beautiful post Robyn! I am grateful for my choice:) Funny that we both had a post on a similar subject without even reading each others!!

Tami H. said...

I can notice a difference. At times its easy to critical about things and others and situations we are in. However, gratitude is powerful and if you change your attitude to gratitude, heavenly father will show you all the things he's done for you, and no matter what your situation, you CAN be happy.

I am thankful for the everyday changing leaves and landscape that I have enjoyed this fall (even if it means a COLD winter ahead).