We tend to make gratitude and joy conditional events, attaching the word “when” to feelings of thankfulness and joy. “When everything in life comes together the way we want it to,” we rationalize, “then we’ll be grateful and joyful.”
When I finally have sufficient income, I’ll be grateful.
When my stress on the job improves, I’ll be happy.
When I’m not stretched in a thousand directions, I’ll have time to be grateful and joyful.
When my spouse and I are in perfect unity, then I’ll be joyful.
Yet, the surest way to joy is through gratitude. As we travel this life we become accustomed to everyday blessings. We take for granted things we believe we deserve and which children tend get so excited about. Children have fresh eyes to see and experience things. As adults, we forget the new excitement over seeing a rainbow, watching a dog chase its tail, or being able to jump. We become used to these things and the joy we once possessed slowly disappears. How do we get it back?
A thankful heart is the answer. Gratitude is a way of seeing. We should constantly wear glasses of thankfulness. They would allow us to see, to notice, what we can be thankful for. Heights of joy are measured by the depths of our gratitude.
It’s important not only to give thanks for the good things, the flowery happy stuff, but also for the bumps in the road, the challenges, and hurts. If you work at it, you can choose gratitude. When you choose to make gratitude your mindset and lifestyle, you can view anything through the eyes of thankfulness. You fell and twisted your ankle? You can be thankful you didn’t break it. Your husband got home late for dinner? You can be thankful he IS home well and sound. Your wife dented the front bumper? You can be thankful she was not hurt and nothing more serious happened. You get the idea!
The grateful heart that springs forth joy is the fruit of a thousand choices. It’s a godly habit and pattern that over time, becomes a well exercised muscle of your character. Solomon in Proverbs 17:22 reminds us that "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."
Take time today to appreciate your loved ones. Show your love and remember that every moment is a gift to be cherished. Instead of criticizing and complaining, experience joy together, make memories, and build your relationship.
Remember, gratitude precedes joy. You will want to have a thankful heart. Practice having the perspective of a child so that you can continually be enthralled with the blessings around you.
Your turn: Take a minute and write a note to a loved one to tell them how much you appreciate them. Tell them how they have impacted your life. Tell them you are glad they are here. Tell them that they are appreciated, valued and seen. Give them a specific example of when you’ve seen them at their best and the difference it’s made or is making for you and for others.
Do it with fancy stationery and a fine pen. Do it by email. Do ti by text. Do it on the back of a receipt with a crayon. Do it however you can. The how is less important than doing it. Both of you will be more joyful for it.