Count Your Blessings

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by Montserrat {Chocolate on my Cranium}

My son has been counting the days until his birthday. For him it is important. He wants to reach the magical age of six.

My 11 year old daughter counts her money. She is trying to earn enough to buy a skirt she wants.

When we get in the van to go anywhere I count heads. I want to make sure we haven’t forgotten anyone!

Why do we apply numbers to things? Why do we count? As humans it is easier to deal in finite terms. We like to have a concrete “something” to show for our time, for our efforts.

Counting also helps us to focus. I have a teacher friend that uses this to her advantage. When it is her turn to teach at church she wears a dress or skirt with lots of buttons or a necklace containing many beads. Inevitably there will be a child who causes a disruption that could very easily ruin the learning for the rest of the children. She will call on that child to come up and help her count the buttons or beads. Of course the other children are counting too to make sure it is right. Pretty soon they are all focused again on her.

Count your blessings. We’ve heard this over and over but that’s because it is so simple it needs to be beaten over our heads! Many of us are like the Israelites of old who, when bitten by poisonous serpents, just needed to look up to the brass serpent Moses held to be healed and live. We fail to be happy because as the prophet Nephi clarified, “And the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.” We think the path to happiness cannot be as simple as that ‘Count your blessings’ and so we go looking for a more complex answer. But it isn’t complex.

Being grateful makes us happy. Pres. Thomas S. Monson taught, “Think to thank. In these three words you have the finest capsule course for a happy marriage, the formula for enduring friendships, and a pattern for personal happiness.”

I have seen this in my own life. My level of happiness is directly related to my depth of gratitude, even during the hard times. Gratitude in adversity has actually helped me get through it and has turned the adversity into a blessing.

When we count our blessings our focus changes from what we don’t have to what we do. It allows us to see what God has given to us. Pres. Henry B. Eyring shared his experience with keeping a gratitude journal:

When our children were very small, I started to write down a few things about what happened every day. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.”

Counting our blessings leads to greater faith. Our thoughts are turned to God as we acknowledge Him as the giver of all gifts. Pres. Eyring again: “More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ.”

During this month of Thanksgiving invite a little more happiness into your life, increase your faith, and change your focus.

Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

When you start feeling a pity party coming on change it into a surprise party by counting your blessings. Your life will become one of happiness and joy.

Why is it important to make a habit of feeling and expressing gratitude constantly, not just now and then? Is there a time when you or someone you knew maintained a cheerful, thankful attitude during a trial or difficult time? How did that help you?

About Montserrat {Chocolate on my Cranium}

Montserrat enjoys classical music, playing the piano, reading biographies, eating gourmet chocolate, and playing a good game of Scrabble. A farmer's wife and mother of nine, she thinks spending time with her family is truly heaven on earth!

8 Responses to Count Your Blessings

  1. Susanne says:

    Pres. Monson hit it right on the mark! We have so much negativity in the world, so much struggle in our every day lives, taking the few minutes Pres. Eyring recommends is truly the antidote.

    “Think to thank. In these three
    words you have the finest capsule course for a happy marriage, the
    formula for enduring friendships, and a pattern for personal happiness.”

    Thank you for giving me something truly helpful to carry through my busy day today. :)

  2. Bonnie says:

    Like the serpent on the pole – so easy to do, so lifesaving, and so easy to dismiss. I find that counting is such an ordering thing, like your focus. Often when I’m distressed it’s mostly a disorder of my mind and heart, and counting my blessings systematizes the chaos, revealing helpful patterns that lead me to solutions. If I don’t do this, I’m reacting in knee-jerk ways to thoughts and feelings that have not been well analyzed. This is the FIRST thing I do when making a big decision.

    Some time ago I wrote about the process of miracles that we can find in the feeding of the 5000. The Lord focused on a problem (that wasn’t even His, frankly, and that’s a story about service), took stock of resources, gave thanks, and went to work believing it would yield results. It’s the process I use now, and I much more often see miracles than if I dither about in my disordered mind. Service-sight, self-evaluation, gratitude, and faith.

    What an awesome reminder this post is during this bustling season that’s supposed to be about service and gratitude but is often about tasks that look like service and gratitude instead.

  3. Paul says:

    When we first moved to Taiwan a few years ago, our younger children fell into a pattern of complaining about all the new things — school, house, food, etc. We implemented a plan in which we had them list five GOOD things from each day as part of their bedtime routine (we did it just before their personal prayers so they could then incorporate at least part of the list into their prayers). I had almost forgotten about that experiment (which worked wonderfully, by the way; within weeks the complaining was gone and they looked for positive things more readily). I’m going to try it myself starting today. :-)

  4. templegoer says:

    I’m never comfortable with being told how to feel, by anyone. I’m just not made that way, possibly because I feel that this can be a way of making others responsible for our own discomfort with the things we find difficult about life. Kinda shooting the messenger. I want my kids to know that we could bear difficult stuff, we didn’t need to disinvent it. I’d rather on the whole that my children understand that their parents struggled with their experiences but made constructive choices. I love the fact that ‘every picture has it’s shadows and it has some source of light’

    I prefer to think about this in terms of delight.

    When I take space to savour the reality of what is around me, I become a sweeter soul. I experience myself as enriched, and therefore have greater resources with which to feed others.

    I love my food. I love my home. I love sweet air and delight in warm water. I love the warmth of my children’s smiles. I pray for the presence of mind that will help me see God’s hand in all that is good.

    The glass is both half full and half empty at the same time. Noticing one does not negate the other.

  5. Curtis DeGraw says:

    At the beginning of 2008, my wife was struggling with a number of things and found herself being more pessimistic than she wanted to be. I had started my personal blog, and she decided to do the same – but, while mine was focused on “the things of my soul”, she used hers initially as a way to focus on the blessings of her life. She wrote a post each Saturday listing and describing the blessings of that week, as a way to recognize them and also to express thanks for them. Knowing she would be writing these posts, she began to notice the blessings right after they happened – and, eventually, as they were happening.

    She now looks forward to writing them each week with anticipation, and she looks forward to “finding her blessings” in advance of writing the posts. (If anyone is interested, go to [mamadehotel.blogspot.com] and click on the “Blessings” label. As of yesterday, there are 428 posts in that category.)

    She now talks about starting that practice of actually “chronicling” her blessings as a great blessing in and of itself, as it literally has helped make her someone who recognizes her blessings as they are happening – which helps blunt her natural tendency to get wrapped up in the difficulties of her life and lose sight of how blessed she really is.

  6. Jendoop says:

    Amen! Something that I don’t want to count is how many times I have to be reminded of this. I feel slothful and not a wise servant. I love the excuse that this time of year gives us to be more open about our gratitude. Now I’m off to hang up the gratitude list in the kitchen where it should have been two weeks ago!

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