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Recently my mother gave me some delicate, hand-painted china that had belonged to her grandmother. It is lovely. I imagine my great-grandmother cherishing this small bit of elegance in their hard lives.
Imagine that I allowed our grandchildren to use that china in the sandpile. Or, worse yet, imagine that I allowed the grandchildren to take it anywhere they played. Imagine that, over time, most pieces were lost or broken. My Mom might be disappointed. She might feel that I did not value the treasures she had shared with me.
The fact is that I cherish my great-grandmother’s china and my mother’s generosity in entrusting me with it. A few pieces of the china are displayed in my office together with pictures of my ancestors. I want to remember them and their abundant gifts that enrich our lives.
A similar principle applies to our abundant gifts from God. Every day He gives me insights, reassurances, and simple joys. Every day. Some days He sends a truckload of feelings, insights, and experiences. Yet many times I get to the end of the day and try to tally the blessings only to realize that I have lost track of most of them.
God might well say to me:
“For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift” (D&C 88:33).
We often treat lightly the abundant and sacred gifts that God grants us. I am determined to be a better steward of heavenly gifts. So, I try to notice the blessings along the way. At the end of every day, I write down a short description of God’s gifts to us. I don’t write a long narrative. I simply list His gifts. Sometimes I highlight those that come with a special invitation or obligation. I want to be like Samuel who “did let none of [the Lord’s] words fall to the ground” (1 Samuel 3:19).
President Eyring challenged us: “Tonight, and tomorrow night, you might pray and ponder, asking the questions: Did God send a message that was just for me? Did I see His hand in my life or the lives of my children? I will do that. And then I will find a way to preserve that memory for the day that I, and those that I love, will need to remember how much God loves us and how much we need Him.”
All of this agrees with the best research on personal well-being. There may be nothing that brings greater peace of mind and happiness than daily recording the things that went well in our lives.
When I die, I want God to know that I noticed many of His daily gifts to us. I want Him to know that I was grateful—that I tried to “live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon” us. (Alma 34:38).
What heavenly gifts has God sent you in just the last few minutes or hours? What do you feel inspired to do to keep a better record of God’s gifts to you? What could you do right this minute that would help? Maybe scribble an idea or two on a scrap of paper? Maybe put a small journal on your shopping list?
To learn more about cultivating gratitude, read Seligman’s Authentic Happiness or, for the scientific background, read Barbara Fredrickson’s Positivity.