All my life I've been regaled by admonitions to be grateful, often with the assumption I will start by naming off my blessings, which usually go something like this, 1) family 2) God 3) country
4) health....etc. So I make the list. And I don't usually feel grateful, usually I feel guilty--I have all this, I have been blessed by all this, so why am I not happy? Why does my life not seem easy? Why aren't I contributing more--what do I have to show for it?
But I've heard gratitude is great at combating the blues; I've also learned discipline of thought patterns (cognitive behavioral therapy) works. President Monson recently spent an entire conference talk on gratitude. The first part of prayer, the way I have learned it, is to thank God for our blessings. So, I've been working a little harder on it.
It does not work for me to make lists of blessings. But recently, I decided to try a little harder. There was a day. A doozy. I felt kicked in the gut emotional pain, not really knowing why. I don't get PMS, so shush about that! I was driving so I had some time, about 20 minutes. I started naming blessings; I tried to make the list different and more specific. Then with each blessing, I would try to understand why I had been blessed with it, why I was grateful for it, sort of an essay on each blessing. Each guilty or destructive thought dismissed: I tried hard to let in more and more light on a very gray day. It was hard work.....but it eventually worked. It took 20 minutes, which seems like a long time until you consider how long every other therapy takes. Instead of making me more grumpy, as a list of my blessings often does, I arrived home anxious to go to work, even cheerfully.
No matter how down you are, or why, efforts at gratitude can work. Why ask why? Because when it comes to gratitude, it works.