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Attitude of Gratitude. By Kristyn Merkley

By Kristyn Merkley

I absolutely love the holiday season! It is kicked off by Thanksgiving and goes on into Christmas. One of the main things that I love so much about it is how kind and grateful everyone seems to be. It may be a coincidence, but it is so fitting that in order to prepare for the holiday season centered around the advent of the greatest gift we have ever received, there is a time dedicated solely to being thankful for all that the Lord has given us. What is interesting to me—and it seems this is true in the lives of those around me—is that I find myself happier during this time. I do not feel this is due to anticipation of my mom’s famous melt-in-your-mouth, put-you-in-a-coma dinner rolls and mashed potatoes, or getting that perfect present I’ve been hinting at to my husband’s deaf ears. This has to do with the season of gratitude. One of my favorite quotes is "It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy."

So often we think the next job or physical object or public acclaim will bring us happiness and something to be grateful for. In reality, happiness is available no matter what our personal circumstance is. We simply need to find a way to be grateful no matter what. Come what may and love it, right?

As I thought of this "thankfulness leading to happiness" principle, I realized how silly it is of me to limit my happiness to only two months of the year. Viktor Frankl said of his time in a German concentration camp, when he was subject to all sorts of hardships and atrocities, "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” No matter my circumstance, gratitude is an attitude that I can choose, and that one conscious choice can absolutely change how happy I am.

After all, I have so much to be grateful for. Even if one aspect of my life is not how I would desire it to be, there are so many other things that are good. A few years back we moved away from family and friends to Houston, Texas. It has been harder than I could ever imagine to live away from my family. For other people, this may not be the case, but for me it proved to be a big trial. At times, it was something that I focused on and complained about. Often, after I had been in one of these foul moods for several hours, one of my children would come up to me excitedly and say they loved me or just give me a hug. In an instant, I realized how ungrateful and closed-minded I was being. I was looking at only a small piece of the grandeur that the Lord had given me. I have healthy, happy kids. I’m happily married. We can provide for our family’s necessities, and we live in complete comfort in a safe country. How could I ever complain about a little distance between me and my family?

This Thanksgiving season, we can be grateful for all the little and big things in our life. We can also use this time to prepare for the season commemorating the gift that we have all been given and can all continue to be grateful for, no matter our hardships. This, of course, is the Savior of the world and His Atonement for every one of us. May we find happiness despite any trials during this season and throughout the year simply by choosing an attitude of gratitude.

Want to show God a little more gratitude this season? All are welcome to worship with us.

The Merkley Family

Kristyn Merkley loves her husband, five children, and all things crafty. She blogs at lilluna.com.