Sunday, July 31, 2011

Thoughts to Remember

Heard a quote in church today that really struck me. My Bishop was quoting my friend Sara, who said, "Triumph is a little try with some umph." I don't know if she came up with this or heard it from somewhere else, but what a great quote! If we want to succeed, we have to try and give it some real effort.

This made me remember the quote my dad shared with me from his sacrament meeting last Sunday. One of his speakers said, "The antidote to bad attitude is gratitude."
Such truth in that gem. It reminds me of the quote that I have on my emails:
"We do not give thanks because we are happy. We are happy because we give thanks." --Douglas Wood. This great quote was in a children's picture book that I read a few years ago called Grandad's Prayers of the Earth.

Gratitude is such an important quality/state of mind/virtue. It truly changes your outlook on life.

I've been thinking about challenges. It seems, at times, like some people have almost perfect lives and so many blessings. Then others seem to have so many challenges. I'm aware that often the challenges that people face are private and most are not aware of what struggles an individual has... and really I'm sure that even though at times I might wish my own struggles away, I am quite sure that there are few if any people whose burdens I would want to trade mine for. But getting back to gratitude. I've slowly come to realize that as I express thanks for my MANY blessings, as I practice an attitude of gratitude, my challenges seem less. But when I stop feeling and acting grateful, then I begin to feel less content and the problems seem to multiply. I do not just give thanks because I am happy. I truly am more happy when I give thanks.

I have realized something important lately. When bad things happen, particularly when someone does something unkind and you are hurt, angry or worried, you have a choice. You can think about the problem and focus on it and let your thoughts be centered on how terrible things are. Or you can focus on your blessings and on the things that are going well. You can think about all the reasons they are wrong or why you're mad and concentrate on the negative. Or you can turn your thoughts around and think about the things that you do that are less than perfect and think about all the things that they do that ARE right and kind and good. One way of thinking will almost certainly NOT solve the problem and will lead to a lot of disappointment and unhappiness...the other will help you gain more peace of mind and more happiness. (I'm not saying you should just always let things go and problems may require thinking to solve them...but they usually don't require brooding over them.) I'm not perfect at this, but it does help me. Abraham Lincoln said, "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." I've heard this for years and thought that he was saying happiness is a choice...and I think there is truth to that, at least for the most part. But as I've reflected lately, I have noticed the word mind and it has led me to conclude that another way of thinking about this quote, is that our mind, our thoughts, to a large degree, determine our happiness.