Hello Online community. Every day we are faced with life events and interior thoughts or feelings that contradict a desire to experience joy. Would you like to experience more joy in your everyday anyways?
One simple secret to experiencing joy is the practice of gratefulness or gratitude. Stick with me because this really does impact us profoundly.
Gratefulness, or the practice of being grateful, is a dynamite level explosion that ripples through our thoughts, emotions, physical health, behaviors and relationships. Gratitude uproots the toxic thoughts, negative emotions and empowers us to release unhealthy relationships. If joy is what we are after, we must plant and water the seeds of gratefulness.
Joy is similar to gratitude in that it impacts us as whole people (emotionally, intellectually, physically, spiritually and relationally). Joy is different than gratitude though in that lasting joy is not found in circumstances. Gratitude sees a circumstance and chooses to find a place to be grateful that is real, true, and authentic.
If our joy is based on getting a great cup of jo, a front row parking spot, a job promotion or a clean bill of health, then joy will fly away after the experience concludes. That’s typically and normal. We all enjoy those things for sure. But we want lasting joy, right? So, if joy is based on our practice of gratitude then the joy will maintain.
The more we practice gratitude while also taking care of our physical, spiritual and relational needs, then the bigger our joy will be and the longer it will maintain. Take a look at the life rhythm suggested by the apostle Paul, who walked next to Jesus and wrote encouraging letters to various cities, in his letter to the people of Phillipi: “6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
So the rhythm we see is:
See life as a gift.
Express gratitude and requests.
Experience peace and joy.
As we realize we are being guarded by the peace of God, we can practice an authentic gratitude that surpasses circumstances, false peace and Pollyanna fake attempts at feeling better when things are still crummy.
When I wake up and my old gymnast body is creaking, then I get into my car that makes a weird sound, and then someone drives badly in front of me, well it’s easy to get either worried or down-right irritable. But when I put the rhythm into practice, I can honestly thank God for the way my body does work, for the opportunity to make a chiropractors appointment, for a healthy breakfast and a car that does get me from A to B, then I am less apt to get offended or become resentful.
If you want to take this to a more intense level, listen to Pastor Rob Koke talk about his experience with the rhythm of gratitude after his son was relocated to heaven. His is a powerful witness. www.shoreline.net or http://vimeo.com/channels/shorelineatx .
So if today you know you want to move from the typical groundhog-day kind of experience to one with a root of joy, plant seeds of gratefulness as often as you are able to do so and see the fruit of your practice bloom.
Liz Lawrence, MA, LPC-S is a counselor, coach and creative who is passionate about people. She is also a certified Critical Incident Stress Management coach and co-founder of Renue.Me. Connect with her at www.lizlawrencelpc.com