Think to Thank Fixed Think to Thank Fixed

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“I wish I were happier.” Most of us have had that thought at some point.
But how do we go about being happier? President Thomas S. Monson teaches us
how to increase our happiness wherever we are in life with a simple yet
effective formula:

“Think to thank. In these three words you have the finest capsule course
for a happy marriage, the formula for enduring friendships, and a pattern
for personal happiness” (BYU Commencement address, Apr. 26, 2001).

So when do we “think to thank”?

We can think to thank the people we love every day.

We can think to thank in the middle of the journey, not just at the end.

We can think to thank God in all things—even in our trials.

As we think to thank at these times and more, we will see the blessings of
gratitude grow in our lives.

We’re busy people. There are mouths to feed, houses to clean, homework to
do, and the thousand other material tasks that make up daily living.
However, in the middle of all this we can remember what is truly
important—the people around us. President Monson taught: “We often take for
granted the very people who most deserve our gratitude. Let us not wait
until it is too late for us to express that gratitude” (“The Divine Gift of
Gratitude,” Oct. 2010 general conference). It’s easy to think to thank the
people we love after they are gone, but the rewards are much greater when
we take the time now, in our day-to-day lives, to thank them. Our
relationships grow and thrive when nurtured by frequent expressions of
gratitude.

Sometimes we tell ourselves that we’ll take the time to be grateful when
the journey is over and the blessings are here—when we finally get married,
buy the house, or have that dream job we were hoping for. However,
President 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” (“The Divine Gift of Gratitude”). We can pause and think to
thank God even in the middle of our journey.

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Lehi was commanded by God to leave
Jerusalem before the city was destroyed. Leaving his gold and silver,
extended family, friends, livelihood, and stable life behind, Lehi traveled
three days with his family and provisions into the wilderness.

After pitching their tents, Lehi “built an altar of stones, and made an
offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks” (1 Nephi 2:7).

From the world’s standpoint, this does not look like a time to be grateful.
They are out in the wilderness, and there’s little evidence that they know
anything about where they’re going. They have left everything behind. The
future is uncertain. And yet Lehi stops and thinks to thank God. He
recognizes God’s guidance in bringing them there and knows that when God is
involved, the journey may be difficult, but there are always good things to
come, and that is something he can be grateful for now.

In the middle of our life journeys, to-do lists, or even our favorite pop
song playing in our headphones, we can follow Lehi’s example—pause, and
think to thank God for His goodness to us and His guidance in our lives.

Everyone experiences times when giving thanks seems particularly difficult.
The death of a loved one, divorce, natural disasters, chronic illness, and
other situations can leave us heartbroken, exhausted, and a whole range of
other emotions that we don’t associate with being grateful. However,
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught that in these times, thinking to thank
can lift our spirits and broaden our perspective. He said:

“We can choose to be grateful, no matter what. …

“Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with
our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look
beyond our present-day challenges. …

“True gratitude is an expression of hope and testimony. It comes from
acknowledging that we do not always understand the trials of life but
trusting that one day we will” (“Grateful in Any Circumstances,” Apr. 2014
general conference).

Gratitude in our difficult circumstances does not make the hard times go
away. It doesn’t mean that we have to get through our difficulties by the
force of our own will or try to fix situations like deep grief or mental
illness by “just being more grateful.” It simply means that we look to
Christ. By expressing our gratitude, we show that we “know in whom [we]
have trusted” (2 Nephi 4:19) and acknowledge that it is through Jesus’s
grace and enabling power that we can endure our trials and that He can make
beautiful things grow from our most difficult experiences. Our gratitude in
these times is an expression of our faith and hope in Him. It gives us the
strength to endure our trials in a more Christlike way.

“Thinking to thank” is something most of us have to practice, but God will
bless us even for our imperfect efforts to “live in thanksgiving daily”
(Alma 34:38). President Uchtdorf taught: “Gratitude to our Father in Heaven
broadens our perception and clears our vision. It inspires humility and
fosters empathy toward our fellowmen and all of God’s creation. Gratitude
is a catalyst to all Christlike attributes!” (“Grateful in Any
Circumstances"). President Monson also taught, “Sincerely giving thanks not
only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of
heaven and helps us feel God’s love” (“The Divine Gift of Gratitude”).

Broadened perspective. Clearer vision. Empathy. The doors of heaven
unlocked and a feeling of God’s love in our hearts. Strength in our trials
and hope in Christ. Thinking to thank God brings us all these things, draws
us closer to those we love, and makes us more like the Savior.