Ethics for Young Girls
Young Woman’s Journal, 1900-1901
Lesson 11: The Art of Gratitude
Our young girls naturally have responsive hearts, which unfold as the rose in the morning sunshine. It is not necessary to tell them they should be grateful. They know this and are grateful. The difficulty lies in the fact that they do not show, or express, their gratitude. The art of gratitude means the expression of gratitude in the best ways.
A little class of second-grade children gave the following list of things for which to be grateful. They also told to whom they should be grateful for these gifts. 1. To papa for working to get money to buys us our warm clothes. 2. To mamma for making our clothes and getting our meals. 3. To mamma for taking care of us when we were babies, and seeing that nothing hurt us. 4. For the beautiful mountains and scenery and fresh air. 5. To God for eyes, ears, mouths, noses, that we may enjoy things. 6. To the horse for his rides and drives. 7. For the Gospel. 8. For the good books we have to read. 9. For trials. In fact, this little class told all the things one should be grateful for. Then the wise teacher said: “How can you show your gratitude?” And the little people proceeded to tell how they could. “I can give an apple to the horse, some nice bran to the cow.” “We can help our mammas with the work and take care of our little baby brothers and sisters.” “We can show God we are thankful for the flowers by watering them,” and so on. These little children in their innocent way realized that it was not sufficient that they be thankful, but that they should express the gratitude that was in their hearts. They also discovered the art of gratitude, and carried it out in their acts during that Thanksgiving Day.
Many of us accept work, courtesies, gifts, without expressing the least sign of gratitude that must well up in the heart if we are not absolutely hardened.
A man stood looking upon the worn yet calm face of his dead wife. “She was a good wife to me,” he said to his friend, “always kind, faithful, and industrious. Yes, she was a good wife and mother; and,” looking up with a deep sense of his appreciation, “and I nearly told it to her once or twice.” His wife no doubt was very glad to hear this, if she did. How much gladder would she have been during her life to have heard words of gratitude from her dear husband! They would have lightened her burdens and made her soul-stronger to bear them.
It is but a simple thing for a girl to throw her arms about mother and say, “How good you are! I thank you, dear, for what you do for me.” Is it a simple thing to mother, father, husband, wife, friend, to hear words of gratitude?
Christ said, “It is more blessed to give them to receive.” It is certainly easier and requires less tact to give than it is to receive graciously and gratefully. A gift draws the heart of the receiver to the giver, by means of the gratitude that arises in the heart of the one who receives. The receiver can create love and friendship in the heart of the one who gives, by expressing her gratitude and appreciation. The expression of gratitude is one of the strongest bonds there are which unite heart to heart.
For every favor received, gratitude should be expressed in two ways. The first way is to show appreciation to the giver; the second, is to bestow a like favor to the one received upon someone else, so that his heart may be softened with gratitude.
We have thought of Christ’s words so much that we have lost sight of the receiver’s duty. It certainly is more blessed to give than to receive, but it is also blessed to receive in a grateful manner.
One reason that we do not express our gratitude is that we receive so many favors that we look upon them as matters of course. If we receive favors so often that we cease to feel grateful for them, it would be better for the receiver’s good not to have so many favors.
There is another point of view in regard to expressing our gratitude. The more we say we are thankful the more thankful we really become. A young woman, who was becoming discouraged with life, resolved to change her standpoint with regard to life. Whenever the feeling of despondency weighted heavily upon her, she hurried to a place where she could be alone, and said repeatedly to God, “Father, I thank thee for my blessings, Father, I thank thee for my blessings.” The result was that she was comforted and arose from her knees with her heart full of gratitude and peace, for discontent cannot abide in a thankful heart.
Some young girls say, “I feel grateful. What’s the use of saying it all the time?” If we do not express our gratitude, the time will come when we will not feel grateful. Feeling must be expressed in doing. Besides this, all people like to be thanked for favors given. Even our Heavenly Father enjoys being thanked for the blessings he has bestowed upon us. No favor is so small that it is unworthy of being grateful for.
Thank your parents for their work, for their interest in your welfare; thank your teachers and friends for words of counsel and advice; thank your friends for the entertainment they have extended to you; tell your sweetheart how you appreciate his thoughtfulness in calling for you to go to meetings or other places; above all, thank God for His mercies and blessings. Those who are the most grateful to Him receive the most from Him.
1. What should you do on returning home from a visit to a friend in another town?
2. Mention five things for which you should be grateful to your parents, to your friends; to your teachers; to bright people of the world; to God.
3. How can a person know you are grateful to him if you do not tell him?
4. It is a custom in society to call on a lady shortly after being entertained by her. Why is this?
5. Why should a person immediately on returning home from a visit to a friend in another town, write to her?
6. Write an essay on the following topics: “Why We Should be Grateful to Parents.” “What Does the Expression of Gratitude Do for the Members of the Family?”