Gratitude is the basis of a happy heart and a fulfilling life. It has been said that if ingratitude be numbered among the most serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues (Attitude of Gratitude, Thomas S. Monson, 2000). The Apostle Paul taught that in the modern days,

… Men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemous, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy (KJV 2 Timothy 3:6).

An antidote to combat these spiritual ailments is to cultivate gratitude as a way of life, independent of our circumstances. This kind of gratitude requires having faith in God, in His will and in His timing. And it is rooted in the knowledge that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can find peace in our suffering and in our trials. Cultivating gratitude as a way of life requires effort on our part. Here are some things we can do:

Read the Scriptures

The scriptures are the word of God to His children. We talk to God through prayer, and He often answers us through the scriptures. The scriptures teach not only how much God has done for His children, but also remind us to show our gratitude. One of the miracles that the Savior performed was healing a group of lepers. While He was traveling through a certain village, 10 lepers called out to Jesus Christ and pleaded, “Master, Jesus, have mercy on us” (KJV Luke 17:13). Jesus answered them, saying, “Go shew yourselves unto the priests” (KJV Luke 17:14). When the lepers did as Jesus asked, they were healed. That they were healed is wonderful, but the Savior taught a powerful lesson in what happened next. Luke records,

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God:
And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger (KJV Luke 17:15-18).

Perhaps the other nine got caught up in the joy of being healed and ran off to tell their families the good news. Maybe they were afraid to come back lest the Savior change His mind about healing them. Whatever the reason, nine of the 10 lepers did not get to hear the Savior say, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (KJV Luke 17:19). Nine were healed physically, but one was healed spiritually as well. That is the power of gratitude.

Count Your Blessings

Life can be overwhelming, with trials threatening to crush us under the weight. This is the time to write down everything for which you are grateful, no matter how small it may seem. Corrie Ten Boom and her sister and father were sent to a concentration camp during World War II for hiding Jews in their home. They were beaten, starved and lived in vermin-infested quarters. But after reading in Thessolians the need to be grateful in all things, Corrie’s sister Betsie declared her gratitude for the cramped quarters, the fleas, and the lice. As it turned out, she was right. It was because of the fleas that they were able to not only keep their hidden Bible but also host a Bible study class in their quarters. No Nazi soldier would step foot into the flea-infested quarters. (See The Hiding Place, Bantam Books, 1971, pgs. 197-199 and 208-209.)

Counting blessings can help us see God’s hand in our lives—and remind us of how much He loves us.

Listen to Hymns of Praise

Music can lift our hearts and gladden our souls. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians,

[Speak] to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (KJV Ephesians 5:19-20).

The song of the righteous is a prayer unto God.

Partake of the Sacrament

The sacrament, also called Communion or the Holy Euracharist in some denominations, was instituted as a reminder of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for mankind. Matthew teaches,

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom (KJV Matthew 26:26-29).

Partaking of the sacrament is a reminder not only of the love that God has for us, but that through His Atonement, Christ took upon Himself all of the pains, sins, sorrows, and weaknesses of the children of men. He knows our pain, He has felt our pain, and He can heal our pain.

Pay Tithes and Offerings

Another way we show our gratitude is by paying our tithes and offerings unto the Lord. Malachi taught,

Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings (KJV Malachi 3:8).

If we do not pay our tithes and offerings, we will miss out on the blessings promised to the faithful. Malachi continued,

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it (KJV Malachi 3:10).

Not only do we show our gratitude to God when we pay our tithes and offerings, but God blesses us in return for our faithfulness, giving us more reasons to be thankful.

Don’t Forget to Pray

Praying is an outward manifestation of our inward gratitude to God. We need not have flowery words to show how we feel, just honest expressions of our gratitude. In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul taught,

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him. Rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving (KJV Colossians 2:6-7).

I love the image of being rooted in faith and abounding in thanksgiving. True gratitude is an expression of our hope and faith in Christ. It is an acknowledgement that we trust God’s will, His timing and His promises.