Gratitude is the key to lasting joy.
Three simple letters that our culture has dedicated hundreds of books, blogs, and podcasts to finding and keeping.
Joy can feel hard to find and keep in our daily lives especially with the distractions and circumstances of life spinning all around us. But when we do experience joy, we want to hold on tight and make it last. It takes effort to choose joy, but it is so important.
There are a lot of reasons to prioritize joy in our lives but let’s focus on two
reasons God gives us:
Paul tells us that joy is one of the fruits of the spirit. It is a benefit of being in relationship with God. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23.
Joy is the appropriate response to the goodness of God. Deuteronomy 26:11 says, “You shall REJOICE in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you.” In the world today, it is easy to be distracted by the pain and disappointments. However, God invites us to look at the good things he has given us and to respond with rejoicing.
Yes, the Bible tells us to cultivate and respond with joy in our lives but how do we get to joy?
The path to joy is gratitude. By practicing gratitude, it is possible to make joy last. The key here is the word “practice.” If you’re like me, I want to list off a few things I’m grateful for every once in a while, and let that provide my lasting joy. I’ve learned that like everything else in life, it takes practice and intentionality to cultivate change in my life. Here are a few ways to practice gratitude:
IMPLEMENT A DAILY PRACTICE OF GRATITUDE | Every day set aside a few minutes to write down things you are grateful for in your life.
SET A GOAL | Each day, commit to writing down 5-10 things.
GET SPECIFIC | It’s easy to list the “big” things in life like, “My family, our home, etc.” Instead focus on small daily things like, “Our neighbor who stopped and waved on our walk today.”
In my own life, I spend time each morning planning out my day and reflecting back on the things I have to be thankful for from the day before. If getting started writing a gratitude list feels intimidating, you can use a journal that has a daily gratitude prompt to get you started on the days that are a little harder to be thankful. You can look up gratitude prompts online or start a note on your phone to write down moments as they happen.
Writing things down causes us to pause in our fast-paced world and focus on the small joys in each day. In seasons of pain and uncertainty, we now have a place where we can reflect back on all that we have to be thankful for and it does not take away the pain and disappointment, but it can help shift our focus.
“The root of joy is gratefulness … It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” - David Steindl-Rast
How are you going to start practicing gratitude today?