The world has, and is, experiencing the challenges of a worldwide pandemic. Mental and physical health, loneliness, employment, family relations, and education are just a few of the challenges many have faced. As we are each individual, our challenges have been individual. Like many of you I have been looking forward to spring. The calendar says it is spring, but the snow that still appears most mornings is still calling for winter. Waking to yet another morning of snow on the ground and the windshield as I drove to work, I decided I needed an attitude adjustment. Psychology research shows that gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Positive emotions, improvement of health, ability to deal with adversity and opportunity for strong relationships are related to gratitude, according to Harvard Medical School.
Our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, holds semi-annual conferences in April and October. These General Conferences are an opportunity to rejuvenate our spirits and souls and make goals for our next six months when we meet again. This year General Conference was also Easter weekend. Easter is a time of renewal as well, so it was a wonderful experience to contemplate both the conference gospel messages and the Easter messages. President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Russell M. Nelson gave this quote during April 2021 General Conference: “His gospel provides an invitation to keep changing, growing and becoming more pure. It is a gospel of hope, of healing and of progress. Thus, the gospel is a message of joy! Our spirits rejoice with every small step forward we take.”
I found President Nelson’s message inspiring and consistent with my goal for an attitude adjustment. This past year could be looked at as an opportunity to be grateful. Spring will come. Birds will arrive, Buds will sprout. Covid challenges will decline. The opportunities for loneliness can be looked at as opportunities to have quiet time to reflect and renew my soul, and time to work on goals and progress. I can be grateful and look forward to the time when I will get to see my family after Covid restrictions ease. I can be grateful that I have had time to process what is important and what I can do without. An attitude of gratitude will come from looking for hope, healing and progress in our lives.
Let us choose to look at this past year and the year ahead as times to be grateful, a time to have hope for future, a time of healing and healing to come, and a time to progress as better individuals and a better and stronger community. May our spring be full of gratitude.
• Donna Leigh is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Juneau Alaska Stake.“Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders. It appears every Friday on the Juneau Empire’s Faith page.