How can we enjoy closer, warmer associations with our children, our neighbors, and our business associates?
May I suggest that the magic word is gratitude. Gratitude is the prelude to love. It is the key to love. It is love in action.
Many weeks ago a dear friend gave me a challenge I both needed and accepted. It was this:
Pray to have your heart made into a vessel overflowing with love.
Act upon prayer by giving of yourself to at least one person every day.
Remember that gratitude is the key to love.
I felt inadequate to carry out this challenge, so I fasted for increased strength. Then wonderful things began to happen.
In our home my gratitude for my husband made him the most important man in the world. Our nine-year-old son responded gladly to my appreciation for him. Twelve-year-old Linda called me “kooky,” yet she melted into happy smiles whenever approached by the new me. It was our 14-year-old son who really convinced me that I had a magic formula. Communication with Jeff had been most aggravating; the wall between us was thick and hard and had caused me great concern. Yet during the following week, in a brief note, Jeff wrote, “Mom, it has been nice to be able to talk to you lately.” The fruits of gratitude were in our home.
Opportunities to test this magic in other places presented themselves one after another. The local seminary principal invited me to substitute in a New Testament class for two days. The subject was miracles. At the end of each of seven class periods, I challenged each student, using gratitude as the key, to go out and perform a miracle in the life of someone else. The next day a boy confessed, “I tried it. Everything about my day went smoother. The nice part was how it made me feel.”
Invited to teach a Relief Society cultural refinement lesson on the problem of communication, I again shared the idea of the magic of gratitude and gave the women the same challenge I had accepted. The three statements were displayed on a chart, and one vivacious young mother pleaded to take it home and hang it in her kitchen. Weeks passed before I saw her to ask her what effect the magic of gratitude had had in her life.
“It completely changed my attitude,” she declared. “My children appeared to be human beings again instead of monsters. Other people’s failings became inconspicuous and I could and did enjoy them for what they were. Doing the dishes was the same but I was different. Now I am learning to be grateful every day for every experience.”
The day I taught a lesson to my Primary class on how to pray, I learned another important truth about gratitude. I had explained that after approaching the Father in a reverent way, we should thank him for our blessings. And suddenly it seemed so clear to me. People who take time to truly pour out their hearts in gratitude, who frequently count their blessings before him verbally and praise him for his goodness, are the ones who talk to him in an easy and personal manner. Isn’t this the way all great prophets have approached their Maker?
A schoolteacher asked me to teach her third grade class for a week. She left a complete lesson plan but warned of certain children who would be sure to upset my rapport. Again I determined to use the magic of gratitude. I studied the difficult children, concentrating on all the good I knew about them. Whenever I could, I expressed appreciation for them—and they became my friends and helpers.
There isn’t a word in all the English language with more magic in it than the word gratitude. Love makes fertile the soil for things to blossom and to grow, and love begins with gratitude. Accept the challenge. Take this magic formula into your heart and convert it into a never-ending chain of happy relationships.