Looking for a surefire way to make your life a happy home for joy to reside? We all want more joy in our lives. It not only makes us just plain happy, but joy has the uncanny ability to fill us so full that there is enough to splash over onto anyone in our wake! That is my desire—for the joy God gives me to splash out into the unsuspecting lives of others around me. I love being sneaky like that!
If you want that too, there is an accelerant you need to add to your equation. This powerful suggestion is a matter of the heart and one anyone can implement. Here it is, simple yet powerful–be grateful. Really, sincerely grateful. Gratitude acts as a multiplier, a booster increasing the power of the wonder, amazement, and joy you experience, and it is key to a peaceful, meaningful, and fulfilling life.
I find this quote by G. K. Chesterton absolutely perfect: “Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” Living in a state of gratitude, maintaining a thankful heart is far more than just a pleasantry; it is a powerful amplifier that can move you from being happy when your circumstances are right to a joy that permeates your being and is constantly amazed by God’s wonder.
Okay curmudgeons, I can practically hear your eyes rolling. Stop scoffing and please just give me a little bit of latitude. I understand your hesitance—life is not all puppies and butterflies, but isn’t it worth a few minutes to potentially discover a slight adjustment that could increase your overall life satisfaction? Ask yourself: “What if it actually works? What if my heart could grow three sizes this day? What have I got to lose?”
Whoever you are, whatever you are thinking, I’m not allowing you the excuse that this concept of gratitude just doesn’t fit your personality. We all need a friendly little push now and then, and this is an important one. I understand some people are more naturally positive while others are more prone to negativity but that’s not what I am talking about here. Gratitude isn’t about pessimism or optimism; gratitude is about training, so we are headed to boot camp. Get ready to learn how to seek out and nurture gratefulness and joy in your life.
Everyone loves the idea of joy. It may at times appear fleeting, but it is real, and God has it for you if you want it. Psalm 16:11 says it so beautifully: “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” The interesting thing about joy is it’s all around us; the more you acknowledge it, the more you’ll find. It’s out there, one of the fabulous side effects of gratefully acknowledging God’s wonder, we just need to remain dedicated to chasing after it.
Consider this concept of chasing wonder and its accompanying joy. It does take a little extra effort; joy may not just fall into your lap, but it does want to be caught. To be good hunters, we must develop our skills. Some actions and attitudes draw joy to us, and others chase it away. It has a lot to do with what you choose to carry.
When we go for walks with our dog, Winston, like all good neighbors we take along poop bags. When he drops his little payload, we bag it up. We have learned a handy trick so we don’t have to carry the stinky bag with us the entire time. We drop it at a corner and then pick it up when we come back by on the way home. The lesson here is simple: don’t carry the poop in your life any longer than you have to—and then, always clean up after yourself.
You may feel like you are carrying a stinky little bag with you much of the time, holding on to the frustrations, annoyances, and hurts of life. If you do, you will begin to smell bad too, and the gratitude and joy you seek will hightail it and run in the opposite direction. Put it down. Then, at the right time, get rid of it. Let it go and clean up the mess it left behind.
Perhaps you need to apologize to someone or correct a contagious negative attitude you shared. When you drop that bag, you can choose instead to focus on and be grateful for the beautiful day, the exercise you are getting on your walk, the time with your sweet puppy, or whatever applies in your situation and brings you joy.
It is a matter of focus…a decision…and it works. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” A joyful heart pays extra attention to life’s daily pleasures and the unexpected blessings. It is a heart of gratitude, and it brings life to those it touches.
When you are grateful, say so. Acknowledge it; say “Thank you,” out loud. It’s not about feeling gratitude—remember, gratitude is a choice. It isn’t enough to think it. Unspoken gratitude is gratitude with its hands tied. It is half as effective. Tell the people you appreciate, thank you. Tell God, thank You. Let your gratitude drown out your complaining.
Your mission in this gratefulness boot camp is to capture the opportunities; not allowing one to slip through your fingers. Activate that amplifier in your life, increase your joy and let it spill out onto others.
– love, Ginger
(Taken from Chasing Wonder: Small Steps Toward a Life of Big Adventures)