Practicing Gratitude and Finding Joy
By Amy Thompson, Missouri Conference Lay Leader
While sitting in a training two months ago, the speaker mentioned that she had been missing joy in her life. This comment resonated with me. During the pandemic my joy has been missing! Did you know that research shows joy and gratitude are connected? Practicing gratitude leads to joyfulness. Gratitude is not an attitude. You can practice gratitude through gratitude journals, gratitude meditations, creating gratitude art or by actually stopping during the day and saying, “I am grateful for ...”. Cultivating a culture of gratitude builds joyfulness into your life.
The speaker in the training explained that she had started using a gratitude app on her phone to assist her in practicing gratitude. This idea intrigued me. Before the day was over, the app was downloaded on my phone, and I have been using it ever since.
The app sends a beautiful tone each morning and evening as a reminder to complete my journal entry. Each morning, the app guides me to identify three things I am grateful for, to name something I will do today to make it great, and to identify a daily affirmation. For the last two tasks, you can choose from the prompts, or you can create your own.
Each evening, the app guides me to identify three highlights of the day and asks how could I have made today even better. This daily practice only takes a few minutes and has brought joy back into my life as well as provided me some reflection time about how my attitude and thoughts impact my day.
What have I learned? I have learned to be grateful for all kinds of things. The bird that sings outside of my window in the wee hours of the morning. The big toothy smile with eyes that light up that I receive from a child. Sharing a hug with one of my parents. The privilege of having a home with a working air conditioner. An unexpected lunch date with my teenage son. The range of gratefulness that I have been able to record has brought joy back into my life.
I have also learned to love myself more and to let go of some things. My daily affirmation during this time has been “I am enough.” I started with changing it each day, but found I wasn’t successful, so decided to choose one prompt until it became a belief or way of life. Many of us struggle with believing we are enough. We tell ourselves or we hear messages from others that our work isn’t good enough, our parenting isn’t good enough, our lifestyle isn’t right and other negative messages. Practicing a daily affirmation can support you in developing more positive thought patterns.
I have also learned that my thoughts each day control my experience of the day. When I can offer positive intent to others, my day goes better. When I am judgmental of others, my day tends to have some rough spots. Thoughts are powerful and impact our behavior towards ourselves and others. Reflecting on what I can do each day to make it better has challenged me!
Our world could use more gratitude and joy. I encourage you to start a gratitude journal or find a gratitude app. Practice gratitude daily. I encourage you to create a daily affirmation that can support your personal growth. Write it on a Post-It note and place it on your bathroom mirror so you see it each morning and night. I challenge you to reflect on your day to see how your thoughts and actions impacted you and others. Praying that all of us can find a little joy in the world!
Finding Joy with Gratitude
- Start a gratitude journal or find a gratitude app
- Practice gratitude daily
- Create a daily affirmation
- Reflect on your day to see how your thoughts and actions impacted others