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Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said, “Mortal mathematics… is forever mistaking who and what counts. Even so, we should be more quick to express genuine appreciation to others. The arithmetic of appreciation is far less practiced and known than the multiplication tables.” (That Ye May Believe, P.55)

What a thought! How true, and how ever-increasingly the art and gift of appreciation seems to be slipping away in society. Is it diminishing even in your quiet spot of the heart, where gratitude for the most important things builds softly as it strengthens the spirit?

To sit and talk with another whose gratitude factor is “on vacation” usually becomes a drain to us. So, when we are working to help another look up and note – with appreciation – the things they have, we need to take care that our own reserve and buoyancy of spirit isn’t compromised, don’t we?

Sometimes happy gratitude in strictly between us and the Lord

What of those beautiful, amazing times when we’re full of thankfulness? When we have a chance to share it with others, it feels good. And we hope they are sharing the joy with us, maybe thinking of their own good things in life. However, as Elder Neal Maxwell taught, “There will be times when we applaud and no one notices our pair of happy hands, and no one even hears our added decibels – except us and the Lord. (That Ye May Believe, p.63)

For me- that is enough. Although I have many wonderful, loving and supportive people around me, it is the heavenly synergy between me and my Lord that matters most. I need to share my gratitude with Him. He needs to know how happy I am because I take time to let Him know. Does He already know? Of course. But that isn’t the point. It strengthens and sweetens the relationship between me and Deity when I voice my gratitude. It usually sweetens the pot of goodness because I am reminded of more ‘little things’ in my life that count so much. He offers us remembrance of the best things – even during dark and troublesome times – when we ask.

Basic math keeps us aware of the tiny things that really count!

Basic math- Adding up my happy things and the gifts that are mine help me deal with difficulties that are part of the mortal journey. Sharing with Him is not a courtesy – it is a necessary portion of our worship and growth. Daily communication – often – grants us more grace in our lifetime. It goes by so quickly!

This is what President Dieter Uchtdorf said, “When we are young, it seems that we will live forever. We think there is a limitless supply of sunrises waiting just beyond the horizon, and the future looks to us like an unbroken road stretching endlessly before us. However, the older we get, the more we tend to look back and marvel at how short that road really is. We wonder how the years could have passed so quickly.” (October General Conference, 2012.)

Time flashes by! When we are older, I guarantee this truth: We will never regret being kind and loving. We will always be joyful that we shared gratitude for things big and small. We will know the things that really count- and will have peace if we have pursued them with a grateful heart. Basic math – the little, beautiful, meaningful, forward- progression things count very much! We have to be on the lookout, so we may “Awake and arise” (Mosiah 4:5.)

Confess gratitude in all things

D&C 59:21 reminds us that we should confess our gratitude in all things. All things. Because of our Father in Heaven, we have even our breath! If we’re busy thanking Him for the goings-on in our daily life, we will have less time (or desire) to continually complain about what we don’t have. Meanwhile, we remove ourselves from that dangerous math of division and subtraction. Seeing only misery or hardship, and failing to confess God’s hand in all the things that bring to pass his purposes – and our progression – is divisive in nature. It wastes valuable mortal time (which is not endless!) It usually brings contention. And we know where contention comes from.

If we aren’t wise, we may see some of our gifts taken away; gifts we take for granted, or don’t make note of until it’s too late. Or our own self-centeredness will wipe the blackboard of beautiful gifts from our mental memory. Perhaps the hard times may harden our hearts so that we have less spot for the lovely things, even if the ‘count’ of them is less than we may desire.

I love these beautiful words once shared by President David O. McKay, “Thankfulness is measured by the number of words; gratitude is measured by the nature of our actions.” (October General Conference, 1955)

It has been quite some years since he shared that counsel, but they are as important now as when he spoke them.

What things really matter to you?

How is your math? I am reminded to keep a statistical sheet, of sorts – to make sure I never, never forget to have gratitude to our Father and our Savior for the things that really count.

  • The beautiful family times of binding, laughing, learning & growing
  • The amazing friends with whom I share great memories as well as ongoing feelings of love and care
  • The little prayers – and big ones – that I know are heard and answered… sometimes the way I would like, and other times, the way He needs them to be
  • For tiny gestures that are profoundly meaningful
  • For sun and rain
  • For cloud cover and snow
  • For music and dance and art; for all creative gifts that make life good.
  • For joyous times and periods wherein we must deal with hard issues.
  • For problem solving and divine guidance to lead us along
  • For trust when things seem bleak and dark
  • For every little cute, lovely, or interesting thing to see, hear, feel, and touch
  • For eternal principles and promise

God bless us to open our heart ever wider, and continue the mathematical journey of multiplying blessings and gratefully adding up the things that count the most.


Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, grandmother, professional speaker, author, and songwriter. Her undergraduate study at BYU was musical theater. She has a Masters degree in communications. She has taught for CES programs for more than 30 years.

Her website is her way of continuing to grow goodness in the world, & point people gently toward Christ. She writes regular columns for [meridian magazine online] and keeps up a Goodness Matters Group page on Facebook to share uplifting, joyful, and (she hopes) inspiring posts.

She & her husband Dean have 8children & 9 grandchildren. She serves as Gospel Doctrine teacher in her ward, and Dean serves in their ward bishopric. Vickey, from Virginia, believes the adage ‘You can take the girl out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the girl.” She loves flowers, tootsie rolls, the ocean, and laughing every chance she gets. Oh…and the Hallmark Channel.