Gratitude = Joy

It’s not joy that makes us grateful, it’s gratitude that makes us joyful.

Brené Brown

Think about that. So often we misunderstand that if we had all the things and our life is packed with goodness, we would then be grateful.

Actually it is not that way.

I have read and even taken a course with Brené Brown and yet I still continue to learn and soak in more every time I hear her speak.

Last night I was watching a talk she gave to teachers and other leaders. She was describing what happens when we think that we cannot be happy with what we have and we are constantly seeking joy through external things. We have all heard “when I take that vacation” or “if I could have that ____”, then my life would be good. This is called scarcity thinking. Scarcity thinning is when we think what we have is not enough or what we have will be taken from us.

Huh.

Years ago I had that mindset. Thankfully through the work I’ve done I no longer have that reaching for something. If a moment sneaks up on me and I do start to feel that what I have isn’t enough, I just have to go to my office and grab one of EIGHTEEN years worth of gratitude journals to see that my life is really quite full.

For some a gratitude journal feels daunting. That’s okay. There are countless ways to cultivate a genuine gratitude practice. Here are some great ideas:

  • pause before eating to recognize all that took place to bring you that plate of food
  • step outside and look at the sky and just breathe for two to three minutes
  • look at a stranger through the eyes of peace
  • say thank you throughout the day as doors get opened, people say hello, words are exchanged
  • smile more
  • before you begin your busy day sit for five minutes and gaze around your space and not see the tasks undone, but see instead your roof, your furniture, your safety
  • exchange gratitudes of the day with your family or friends before eating

Research shows that with a genuine gratitude practice, we can shift from scarcity thinking to joy. Imagine your life shifting from disappointment to deep appreciation. Think about how your relationships and business could flourish with an attitude of enough.

More than enough.

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A Gratitude Practice

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melodie Beattie

This is a special time of year when we find ourselves being more thankful and appreciative. I love to see the focus of many people shift from the outward struggles that the collective world is feeling to a focus on abundance. If only we could all stay focused on the good in our lives rather than the nonsense that floods and feeds the division in our world.

Gratitude Practice

I believe that a deliberate practice of gratitude can truly change your life. Many years ago I began a daily gratitude journal and after a short time I realized that throughout my day I was looking for things to be able to write down in my journal. What a life-changer to be on the look-out for what is good versus what is lack. Now after 18 years of a daily gratitude practice, if I find that in times of fear or sadness, I can open up any of one of those journals and be reminded of all that I really do have in my life.

I encourage you to spend some time each day acknowledging a few things in your life that you can be grateful for, including yourself! If you are not sure what to be grateful for beyond the obvious, then I say use your senses! What did you smell today? Did you feel something amazing today? Describe something that you tasted today that was amazing? To deepen your practice, you can include why you are grateful. I love to acknowledge that I am grateful for my friends because they help me to feel connected.

How to have a gratitude practice

When we think of abundance we often think of the tangible, material, often obvious things in our life to be grateful for; house, food, car, employment, etc. I would like to offer up acknowledging the abundance of less visible things; the love you feel for someone, the colors that surround your life, the sounds of music and laughter, the aroma that fills your home from a hearty soup, or the growth that you have shown this year.

Soak in all that is untouchable. Fill your heart with the fullness of simply being alive and experiencing the sensations each day offers.