I'd like to dedicate this post to those in my very favorite category of human being.
The ones who aren't finished growing yet.
After teaching for 27 years, what I miss most are the beautiful faces, hundreds of them, looking up at me, so full of possibility that it often brought tears to my eyes.
May God bless and keep them always.
Thanksgiving is just around the bend.
And with the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie come thoughts of some of the other blessings in life.
But just thinking about being thankful isn't enough, and that's a really important thing to know.
Being grateful requires action.
There's a story in the scriptures that illustrates this principle.
It's the account of the Savior's healing of the ten lepers. You know the one.
It's where Jesus healed ten men who were dying of leprosy. Back then leprosy was a terrible, disfiguring disease, and sadly there was no cure or effective treatment.
With mercy and love Christ blessed each of the suffering men. They were spared a long, lingering death and given a new lease on life.
But even so, after this mighty miracle, only one of the ten returned to say, "Thank you."
It was then that the Savior taught a profound lesson about how to live a happy life.
If you like blessings you'll need to remember it.
This was the lesson.
"WERE THERE NOT TEN HEALED?" He asked the grateful man. "BUT WHERE ARE THE OTHER NINE?"
I was puzzled a bit when I first read this. Why did Jesus care that the nine were ungrateful? Were his feelings hurt? Did He want a reward?
After some pondering I decided that those couldn't be the reasons. Christ was never concerned about his own welfare. He was all about doing good things for others.
Finally I understood.
With just two questions Jesus taught us all one of the most important things in life.
The importance of gratitude.
You see, He knew that people never find happiness without it.
And even though He had healed the nine of their terrible affliction, now He was really worried about them.
Now He was worried because they didn't express gratitude or maybe even feel it.
The Savior knew that unless we recognize our blessings and give thanks we won't feel joy.
And aren't we taught, "Man is that he might have joy."
Those nine men were in danger of missing the whole point.
Like the Savior, President Monson understands gratitude.
"My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive?
Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us to recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God's love.
A grateful heart, then, comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for his blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives. This requires conscious effort."
So, I guess all this makes saying "Thank you so much," a pretty big deal, huh?
"Unlocks the doors of heaven," I think the Prophet said.
Well, as it turns out, I happen to know some wonderful young people who might benefit from direct instruction on this very subject. They sometimes forget to say thank you properly.
These particular young folks I know are much loved by many. Those who love them hope they'll have a life filled with choice blessings. They hope heaven's doors will always be open for them.
And for that to happen they need to understand gratitude.
So, here are some simple tips on making that conscious effort the Prophet was talking about.
But first, it may help to imagine the feelings involved in a little story.
Suppose your best friend is having a birthday and you want to surprise them with a really special gift.
You go out of your way to get just the right thing. It's a jacket you know they've been wanting for ages. You save to buy it and just before your friend's big day you head out to shop for it. It takes three stores to find the right size!
You wrap it carefully with a big red ribbbon, take it over to your friend's house, and present it proudly.
You watch with excitement as the box is opened.
Your gift is put on with a smile and everybody in the family admires it.
But then your friend says not a single word of thanks. Not one.
The jacket is worn to school everyday.
But you never hear anything about it except when people say, "Cool jacket!" to your friend.
Now, here's a question.
How would you feel?
And here's another question to go with your answer to that one.
What will you be getting your best friend for their birthday next year?
You see, gratitude is a funny thing.
It has special powers. Superpowers even.
It's like a magnet.
It brings more good things into your life.
It attracts them.
Christ knew this.
So, next time you're grateful, do this.
**** Thank Heavenly Father first.
Every blessing, Every time. Don't forget.
***Then do this for the people who've been kind to you. (Which includes your annoying brothers and sisters.)
ANY small service, such as loaning a pencil, opening a door, or saving a seat should receive an immediate;
"Smile" and "Thank you."
*** A larger kindness such as sharing lunch when you forgot yours, or taking care of your dog for the weekend, should receive;
Immediate "Sincere Smile" and "Thank You."
PLUS a Text, E-mail, or Phone call later the same day. (Hey, thanks again for the lunch!)
*** Large kindnesses such as the special birthday present, including you on a trip or vacation, anything that required significant planning, effort, or funds, should receive;
Immediate "Sincere Smile" and "Thank You."
PLUS the Text or E-mail (I had so much fun! Thanks!)
A Phone Call, or Thank You Note or Small Gift (Like a favorite candy bar) a couple of days later.
(Relax. All this is really easy. It'll only takes a few minutes. Seconds even.)
To sum up, it's the one, two, three of thank you.
* Pray to Father in gratitude first.
* Then one "thank you" for every small thing.
* Two for mediums.
* And three for the biggees.
This will bring amazing blessings into your life.
Heaven's doors will unlock.
And the superpowers of gratitude will kick in.
Like a magnet.
Try it right now.
(By the way, I've just fetched my "thank you" notes from the shelf where they were gathering dust. I remembered some gratitude of my own that needed showing.)