Wishing I could pick up old dreams like old friends, dust them off and polish them anew. On display on top of a pedestal or in a glass box, out of reach and completely unattainable…but beautiful, oh so beautiful. Most days are spent doing my best to ignore them. Most nights, mourning their premature deaths and what could have been. I especially mourn the dreams that have yet to be born – those dreams that I attribute to the future and progress of my children. What will their lives be like if they aren’t allowed to dream? In what do we have to hope without progression, without dreams? Stifled by the struggle of day-to-day, making ends meet where the rope just isn’t long enough. It’s not just about income and bills, it’s about self-worth and the value attributed to the ability to progress, provide, or fit in. It’s the comfort of being able to step over the boundaries of necessity into a world of luxury and simple pleasure. Or, being able to splurge a little and not worry about how it will reflect when you make an account for it, or justify it, or have to make the choice of what to cut out instead.
I know it’s important to just be grateful for what I have. I really don’t go looking for ways to be ungrateful. I don’t look for things that other people have and wish I could too. I don’t care about fads or trends.
President Thomas S. Monson reminded us to be grateful in the October 2010 General Conference. He said, “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.” And he quoted President Hinckley saying, “When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives.”
We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues. Someone has said that “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” 8
How can we cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude? President Joseph F. Smith, sixth President of the Church, provided an answer. Said he: “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.” He continued: “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!”
Do material possessions make us happy and grateful? Perhaps momentarily. However, those things which provide deep and lasting happiness and gratitude are the things which money cannot buy: our families, the gospel, good friends, our health, our abilities, the love we receive from those around us. Unfortunately, these are some of the things we allow ourselves to take for granted.”
To express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven.”
It is important to remember in my trials that I am not alone. I can look to the Savior in my time of need:
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: … he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows… But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5).
“And he [has gone] forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.And he [has taken] upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he [has taken] upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:11-12).