I don’t want to take much time, as I am just starting to get better from a couple weeks of illness, but these last few days of reflection have led me to consider one truth I want to talk about in short:
Gratitude is oft too fleeting.
What I mean is that, like orange leaves clinging to an autumn tree against an icy winter breeze, we struggle to hold on to the warmth of gratitude with the passing of time. I personally find that when I become really sick, I become extremely grateful for the simplest of things when I return to health, but that feeling slowly fades.
I try, of course, but I forget. Almost against my will, I forget the strength of pain, suffering, and sorrow until their return. It is almost human nature, I suppose. Psychology teaches us that memory has a positive skew. That is, the stories of our lives are painted more warmly, on average, with every passing year.
This can, in a way, make us seem more grateful because we have so much good to remember, but it also makes us complacent. When we forget the cold, we forget how wonderful warmth is. When we escape times of depression, we are numbed to how delightful it is to be away from them.
And so I return to gratitude. God wants us to be grateful. And we are a greater blessing to others, and more empathetic, when we are truly grateful for what we have. But being grateful requires effort. It requires that we remember the bad, that we truly understand the blessings we enjoy, ones that so many others in this world might not.
There are many ways to be more grateful. We can pray for it. We can give to those who have not, especially in this time of cold and remembrance of the gift of life that was given to us by the Savior.
But I’m not writing here to outline the best ways for us to have gratitude. We are all different, and we show and feel it in different ways.
Rather, I am simply suggesting that gratitude is much harder and much more fleeting than we often give it credit for, so now would be a good time to consider just how we can make sure we truly have it, and truly share it.