Friday, June 30, 2017

President Joseph F. Smith on cultivating gratitude as the memory of the heart

President Joseph F. Smith (1838-1918) was the son of Joseph's brother Hyrum. He was ordained an apostle in 1866 at age 28, and served as a counselor to Brigham Young and the three presidents who followed.  He became the 6th president of the Church in 1901, and served until his death in 1918 at age 80.
"We are almost daily put under obligations to one another, especially to friends and acquaintances, and the sense of obligation creates within us feelings of thankfulness and appreciation which we call gratitude.  The spirit of gratitude is always pleasant and satisfying because it carries with it a sense of helpfulness to others; it begets love and friendship, and engenders divine influence.  Gratitude is said to be the memory of the heart....
"The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life. Pride destroys our gratitude and sets up selfishness in its place. How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man!"
- Joseph F. Smith, Juvenile Instructor, April 1903, 38:242-243; see also Gospel Doctrine 262-3

It's interesting to observe the relationship between service and gratitude. As we give to others, especially when sacrifice or unusual effort are involved, it creates a bond of gratitude between us. "Love and friendship" are the result of helpfulness as we strive to bless one another. And those feelings can be long-lasting, since "gratitude is... the memory of the heart."

I love the two additional points President Smith made. We love being in the presence of truly grateful souls; their attitude rubs off and inspires all around them. And so, why would we not want to become that kind of soul? We can cultivate a greater spirit of gratitude by starting with our expressions to God in prayer. As we emphasize all we have to be grateful for in our interactions with Heavenly Father, it will bless all the rest of our life.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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