We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. –Thornton Wilder
Dan Millman described a time when his mentor, Socrates, challenged him to sit out on a large, flat stone until he had "something of value" to share. Dan sat out on the rock for hours. At different times, believing he had come up with something to share, he went to tell Socrates. Each of those times, Socrates decided the statement was not good enough, and he sent Dan back to the rock for more hours of pondering. Finally, Dan had an insight that he knew was something of value. When Dan shared this insight, Socrates looked up, smiled, and welcomed Dan back inside. The "something of value" that Dan had realized was this: "There are no ordinary moments."
This is the meaning of gratitude. Nothing in your life, not a single moment, should be taken for granted. There are no ordinary moments! When we develop gratitude for every moment, for the simple joys, as well as for the challenges that we face, we come to truly enjoy and appreciate life. We are then able to see the blessings of the Lord in our lives every second of every minute of every hour of every day.
There were times in my life, when something especially wonderful happened, and I genuinely felt grateful for being at that place and in that time. But I never really thought about consciously cultivating an attitude of gratitude.
Now, each day, I try to come up with a few specific events that occurred during the day and for which I feel grateful. Some days, it is easy. Other days, it is more of a challenge, so I begin with the basics, like, "I am grateful for being alive, I am grateful for the gospel, I am grateful for my testimony."
As I give myself time, I always come up with more and more things that I am grateful for. It seems to be easier if I start with the little things that I am always thankful for. A home, church, family, work, a loving husband, food to eat, clothes to wear. You can start to get the picture.
There is an old saying in the Post Office where I work, "What gets measured, gets done". I have found that gratitude is actually a lot like that saying. It we don't acknowledge it, we don't notice the things we have in our lives to be grateful for. But, if we take a moment to really look, we can see the miracles and blessings that surround us. We can measure the things in our lives that we are grateful for. When it gets noticed, it gets done.
Sometimes, it seems a little hard to focus and think about gratitude. Especially, after a particularly bad day. (The day all the girls got the flu comes to mind). But, if I start with the basics, the things I am ALWAYS grateful for, somehow, it is not as difficult as it first seemed.
Trying to cultivate an attitude of gratitude has changed my life: I am much more happy and at peace than I have ever been before. I feel the spirit more often in my life. I recognize the Lord's hand in the daily experiences that I have. I appreciate the many little things that are done in my behalf every day.
When you can maintain an attitude of gratitude, even on a bad day, then the challenging days will not feel as bad, and the good days will just seem that much sweeter to you. You will realize, as Dan Millman did, that "There are no ordinary moments." You will begin to see the blessings in your everyday life.
"It’s so easy in life for us to receive blessings, many of them almost uncounted, and have things happen in our lives that can help change our lives, improve our lives, and bring the Spirit into our lives. But we sometimes take them for granted. How grateful we should be for the blessings that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings into our hearts and souls. I would remind all of you that if we’re ever going to show gratitude properly to our Heavenly Father, we should do it with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength—because it was He who gave us life and breath" (David B. Haight, "Were There Not Ten Cleansed?," Ensign, Nov 2002, 24).
Patty Ann is a busy mother, grandmother, and wife. She lives her life in the woods she loves up on the top of a beautiful mountain. She loves music, photography and writing. Most of all she loves her Heavenly Father and enjoys writing about his influence in her life. You can find her on her blog at Pitterle Postings