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Why Gratitude Is the Remedy for Covetousness

By Mormon.org
young African woman in classroom

I Want, I Need

Have you ever convinced yourself that you needed something so much that your happiness depended on it? As a child we might have pinned our hopes on a piece of candy, a new toy, or a bike like our best friend’s. As an adolescent and teenager we may have believed we needed a girlfriend, a boyfriend, or a car. As an adult, our world expands and so do the opportunities to fall prey to covetousness.

The Remedy—Gratitude

For grown-ups, covetousness isn’t confined to the material. We can covet nearly anything: money, careers, family, education, talents, relationships, health, accomplishments—anything we perceive we lack. Covetousness is a focus on the absence of. It’s a perceived void that we desperately want to fill. Thankfully, it has an opposite and a remedy—gratitude.

Modern Covetousness

In this day and age, it’s easy to see why so many people struggle to find happiness. Modern covetousness isn’t limited to wanting what our friends and neighbors have. Technology has allowed for an endless barrage of messages that tell us what we need to be happier, smarter, prettier, wealthier, healthier, and the list goes on.

We are enticed nearly everywhere we go by alluring advertisements that encourage us to seek outside ourselves for happiness and contentment. By getting caught up in this mentality we rob ourselves of the ever-present opportunity to find true happiness right where we are without spending a dime. We don’t need a new outfit, truck, house, spouse, credit card, gym pass, or you name it to feel joy in this world. When we’re so focused on wants and perceived needs, it’s nearly impossible to see the abundance already present in our lives. It might be cliché, but it’s true that happiness is found within.

I Have

So how do you flip the switch from an external focus to an internal one? When you find yourself saying “I need” or “I want,” try changing your dialogue to “I have,” and fill in the blank. Even saying it aloud feels good. Before long, you’ll begin to see all of the blessings you have but may have been missing because your focus was elsewhere.

Often, the most grateful, humble individuals in a society are the poor. It’s not uncommon to see countries that are the poorest in material possessions be the richest spiritually. Counting blessings requires humility. The poor often understand better than anyone what it’s like to be without the most basic of necessities. They teach us that there’s always something to be grateful for and happy about. If you’re down to the shirt on your back, take two fingers and place them on your neck. A beating heart means that you have something to be grateful for: a life, a future, work to do, people to love, and things to learn.

God loves to bless those who choose to express gratitude for even the smallest of blessings. As we practice seeing the goodness already present in our lives, we’ll turn outward much less for fulfillment and discover that we have what we need to be joyful right now.