Friday, December 30, 2011

The Gratitude Effect

As all of you are educated people (as far as I know, that is), you will be familiar with the concept of a chain reaction. Even if you weren't educated people (which would be alright as well), you would know how this works from playing with things like dominoes or billiard balls or tenpins. One domino hits the next which hits the next and so on until they've all been knocked over, or one ball runs into another ball which causes it to hit another ball, or the bowling ball hits the tenpins at the end of the alley and the whole thing happens in fast motion (resulting, if done correctly, in a strike). The same sort of thing happens on scientific terms, too - as in the nuclear fission chain reaction. A molecule of Uranium 235 is hit by a nuetron, which then causes the Uranium nucleus to undergo fission and split apart, the occurence of which releases further loose neutrons, which then go hit other Uranium 235 molecules and start the process all over again.

I would like to propose another chain reaction, not involving balls or dominoes or nueclear equations or anything like that. It's one that can and does happen every day, wherever and whenever someone is willing to instigate it. An individual can begin the reaction at any level. The process I will describe is much like the way I have experienced it, but there are many other ways. That said, without further ado I give you...

The Gratitude Effect.

An individual sees a need in another individual. Insert whatever specifics you will - a relief society sister finds out about a shortage of clothing in a village in Africa, or someone sees that their neighbor's garden needs weeding and watering. The individual realizes that the individual in need has less than he himself does, and feels compassion. He then fills the need for the individual, ont he condition (and this is very important) that no reward is wanted or expected - it is simply for the sake of service. The individual in need is then grateful to the serving one, and the serving one is grateful for the opportunity and grateful (having seen the need) for what they have been given. The experience on the whole produces love and gratitude in both participant parties.

It goes the other way, too. Imagine and individual sees in themselves a surplus - say that I discover that I have a lot of clothing I don't wear. Realizing a coexisting personal surplus and general want, the individual gives of their surplus to assuage the want. The giving and receiving parties are grateful for what they have, the giver because they have enough to give and continue in bounty, and the receiver for having received. Again, gratitude and love are produced.

This idea is not my own. It came from President Henry B. Eyring, who wrote, "We must ask in prayer that God, by the power of th Holy Ghost, will help us see our blessings clearly even in the idst of our trials. He can help us by the power of the Spirit to recognize and be grateful for blessing we take for granted. What has helped me the most is to ask God in prayer 'Wouldst Thou please direct me to someone I can help for Thee?' It is in helping God bless other that I have seen my own blessings more clearly."

God has commanded us (not suggested, but commanded) that we be thankful and express gratitude for our blessings. This is not because He needs our thanks or our recognition - because neither is the case. Rather, he commands us to show gratitude because He knows it will set of a multitude of cycles within our hearts and minds and spirits, the results of which can only make us better. Among a host of end products are increased love, greater happiness in everyday life, clearer sight for our blessings, and closeness to God. All we put into the equation is a little time or a little resource towards service of others, as well as personal spirituality (prayer, scriptures, church, etc.). Compared with the results, how easy it seems to do what is asked!

Easy though it is, I still struggle with this one sometimes. This I know for sure, though - when I want for things I can't or don't have, I am miserable. When I am grateful for what I have and want for others to share it, I am happy. That is the Gratitude Effect at its most basic level. That is how it always is, and that is how God intended it.

Thank you for your love, tolerance, and support, my friends. 'Til next time...

1 comment:

  1. Rachel- This is beautiful! The gratitude effect is like ripples on a pond. One person serves another and then they had a desire to go and help others. It's such a simple concept, but you explained it so well.

    love, mom