The life-lifting benefits of an “attitude of gratitude” framed Tuesday’s campus devotional remarks offered by BYU religion professor Ray Huntington .
He spoke of a scientific study where three groups of people were analyzed, and the group that expressed gratitude daily was 25 percent happier than the two groups who did not.
“Indeed, over the past decade, there has been a growing body of scientific literature linking the practice of consistent or ‘chronic’ gratitude with a host of positive outcomes for our lives,” Huntington said.
Huntington went on to talk about “God’s Constitution of Gratitude,” made up of three scriptures and their applications.
The first scripture, Psalms 24: 1-2 refers to how the earth and all of it’s creations belong to God, and how God’s children need to remember that and be grateful.
“Brothers and sisters, I have created nothing, I own nothing,” Huntington said. “As the psalmist points out, the rightful owner is Heavenly Father — he who graciously bestows his creations, including the air I breathe, for me to use in the short season I am here in mortality. That kind of heavenly, divine benevolence deserves our highest gratitude and praise.”
The second scripture, Doctrine & Covenants 59:7 and 21 reminds people to show their thanks to God.
“We are commanded to thank God in all things because it promotes our happiness and well-being,” Huntington said. “Grateful people are happier people. If that were not the case, God would not command us to express our thanks to him and to others.”
The third and final scripture, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, calls for people to rejoice, pray and give thanks in everything. Doing this can make all the difference in one’s life.
“Consciously choosing to fill our mind with thoughts of our blessings and feeling appreciation for those blessings can change the way we feel and brighten our spirit during difficult times,” Huntington said. “Even spending a few minutes thinking about our blessings, even numbering them, as we walk from class to class can add a little sunshine and encouragement to our life. So simple, yet so powerful.”
Huntington suggested five ways people can recognize blessings and increase the thankfulness and gratitude they have in their lives. First, try keeping a gratitude journal. Second, add more “thank you” to everyday vocabulary. Third, take time to write thank-you notes and letters of appreciation to people. Fourth, live in the present moment and try to give thanks for small blessings encountered every day. And finally, offer thoughtful prayers to awaken a thoughtful heart.
“May we have hearts that can feel, ears that can hear, and eyes that can see our blessings and live in continual gratitude toward God,” Huntington said.