When the Book of Mormon missionary Amulek is teaching the poor Zoramites, the ones who have been kicked out of the very synagogues they built, he gives them some interesting counsel. First, he tells them that they don’t need a synagogue to worship. “Worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in,” he says (Alma 34:38). Good solution, Amulek.
And then comes the interesting part.
“Live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which [God] doth bestow upon you.”
The many mercies and blessings? But weren’t these people in poverty, rejected by their community?
And yet, Amulek helps them see that they still have been so blessed. As President Thomas S. Monson taught, “Regardless of our circumstances, each of us has much for which to be grateful if we will but pause and contemplate our blessings.”
This Thanksgiving time, our families can be blessed as we follow Amulek’s counsel to “live in thanksgiving daily.”
How Gratitude Helps
It turns out that Amulek’s advice is more than just a nice idea. Research supports the fact that living “in thanksgiving daily” can actually have some tangible benefits for you and your family! Here are just a few.
- Physical health benefits. As you and your kids practice being grateful, it can actually help you become physically healthier! Research shows that people who are more grateful also report better physical health.
- Mental health benefits. Not only does gratitude help your body, but it can also help your mind too. One study found that gratitude is linked with lower risk for mental health challenges like depression and anxiety.
- Relationship benefits. In addition to physical and mental health benefits, gratitude can help your relationships become better too! Research shows that gratitude is like a “booster shot” that can help couples feel more connected and satisfied with their relationship.
Clearly, gratitude can do a lot to help you and your family. But while most of us know gratitude is a good idea, it can be a lot harder to put it into practice. How can we develop gratitude in our own lives, and how can we help our children do the same? Here are a few ideas that may help you get started:
- Keep a gratitude journal. In order to practice developing gratitude, keep a gratitude journal. Write at least once a week for 15 minutes, including at least five things you’re grateful for. Don’t forget to include the details! (For some ideas about gratitude journaling, check out this site from UC Berkeley.)
- Say a gratitude prayer. Elder Bednar recommends that “periodically you and I offer a prayer in which we only give thanks and express gratitude. Ask for nothing; simply let our souls . . . communicate appreciation with all the energy of our hearts.” As we take the time to thank Heavenly Father, we’ll be reminded that there is so much to be grateful for.
- Model gratitude. In order to help our kids become more grateful, we need to show them how it’s done. Make a conscious effort to express your gratitude to people, and let your kids know what you’re grateful for. They will learn firsthand from your example.
(For more great ideas on developing gratitude, see Positive Psychology Program’s website or UC Berkeley’s website. There are plenty of options to choose from!)
Live in Thanksgiving
Amulek’s counsel applies to more than just the Zoramites. This Thanksgiving, strive to “live in thanksgiving daily” for all the many blessings God has given you and your family! As you do, your family will surely reap the rewards.