Elder Wirthlin speaks on living thankfully

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    By Kris Boyle

    Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, told students in Tuesday’s Devotional.

    “We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all around them. They make others feel better about themselves. They tend to be more humble, more joyful, more likeable,” he said.

    Elder Wirthlin said it becomes increasingly easy to find reasons not to be happy and blame them on the things we lack.

    “The problem is, the more we focus on the things we don’t have, the unhappier and more resentful we become,” he said.

    External conditions don’t necessarily make people happy, he said.

    “One thing I can tell you with certainty is this: you cannot predict happiness by the amount of money, fame or power a person has,” Elder Wirthlin said.

    He said those who live in thanksgiving daily are often the happiest in the world.

    As an illustration, he shared the story of Olympic gold medallist Rulon Gardner.

    Gardner, who grew up in Afton, Wyo., was often the point of ridicule and jokes because of his size.

    But rather than become resentful, he used the teasing as motivation. He decided to use his size to his motivation.

    Elder Wirthlin said by the end of his senior year, Gardner could pick up four 100-pound bales of hay at a time.

    He became the Wyoming state wrestling champion and decided to work towards the 1996 Olympics.

    Unfortunately, Gardner arrived 22 seconds late for the Olympics weigh-in, so he was forced to wait until 2000.

    Members of his hometown helped raise money to send him to Sydney, and he made it to the final obstacle in obtaining a gold medal.

    It was Alexandre Kareline, called the Siberian Bear, considered by many to be the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler in the history of the sport.

    But at the end of the match, it was Gardner who stood victorious.

    Despite his newfound success, Elder Wirthlin said Gardner did not forget those who he owed so much to.

    “Rulon Gardner knows what it means to be grateful,” Elder Wirthlin said.

    He said living thanksgiving daily is a habit that will enrich lives, and suggested three ways to make it part of life.

    First, he said we must open our eyes.

    We take for granted the beauty around us because we see it so much, Elder Wirthlin said.

    “Those who live in thanksgiving daily, however, have a way of opening their eyes and seeing wonders and beauties of this world as though seeing them for the first time,” he said.

    Second, we can open our hearts.

    “We must let go of the negative emotions that bind our hearts and fill our souls with love, faith and thanksgiving,” he said.

    Elder Wirthlin suggested using the gospel more fully in our lives as a way to open our hearts.

    Finally, we can open our arms.

    “When was the last time you told someone you love how much they mean to you? When was the last time you expressed you gratitude to someone who has always been there for you?” he said.

    Helping others is a way to show our thanks, he said.

    “Every time we cheer another’s heart, every time we ease another’s heart, every time we ease another’s burden, every time we lift a weary hand, we show our gratitude to that God to whom we owe all that we have and all that we are,” Elder Wirthlin said.

    He said as we do these three things, we will become happier.

    “Don’t wait to start. Open your eyes, open your heart and open your arms. I promise that as you do so, you will feel greater joy and happiness,” he said.

    “Not everyone can be a star quarterback, not everyone can be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, not everyone can win a gold medal at the Olympics, but everyone – everyone – can live in thanksgiving daily.”

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