This past week marks a year since we moved to Brazil. Something I have learned a lot about (and of course still learning) is gratitude. I remember hearing somewhere that it isn’t happy people that are thankful, but thankful people that are happy.
In high school I had the incredible opportunity to spend a month in India where we worked in leprosy colonies. I expected to find a lot of poverty, sickness, and sadness- and I did. But what I didn’t expect at all, is that I would also find the happiest people I have ever met. They were living in flea infested huts, many had been cast out of their families, had little to nothing, and were in chronic pain. It reminded me a lot of Job in the Bible. Yet there they were smiling their radiant toothless smiles, and excitedly showing us their humble homes. It was an experience that I will never forget, and think about often. But it still puzzles (and even frustrates) me to this day.
How is it that I find myself mumbling and grumbling about my silly problems, that pale pathetically in comparison? What is missing here?
I want to be happy like that.
I realize everyone has great and not-so-great days, but I’m not talking about just the day to day. Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave an amazing speech on this topic in the last conference. He explained that gratitude is a disposition, a way of life. And independent of our circumstances. This true gratitude “transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer.”
He goes on to talk about why and how that is even possible.
“Being grateful in our circumstances is an act of faith in God… By being grateful, we follow the example of our beloved Savior, who said, “Not my will, but thine, be done.” True gratitude is an expression of hope and testimony. It comes from acknowledging that we do not always understand the trials of life but trusting that one day we will.
In any circumstance, our sense of gratitude is nourished by the many and sacred truths we do know: that our Father has given His children the great plan of happiness; that through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ, we can live forever with our loved ones; that in the end, we will have glorious, perfect, and immortal bodies, unburdened by sickness or disability; and that our tears of sadness and loss will be replaced with an abundance of happiness and joy.”
I love those words, because it reminds of a greater perspective. A greater meaning in life. So basically, read the rest. It will knock your socks off.