Sunday, December 9, 2012

Want More Joy?

… that habit of discontentment, it can only be driven out by hammering in iron that is even sharper —
The sleek pin of gratitude.” ….
So my sister told me about this blog she reads, A Holy Experience, and how author Ann Voskamp promotes keeping a gratitude list.  I am grateful for my sister AND that she told me about this blog!

Check out some of the benefits of keeping a gratitude list:

Because if you keep a gratitude list, you:
1. Have a relative absence of stress and depression. (Woods et al., 2008)
2. Make progress towards important personal goals (Emmons and McCullough, 2003)
3. Report higher levels of determination and energy (Emmons and McCullough, 2003)
4. Feel closer in their relationships and desire to build stronger relationships (Algoe and Haidt, 2009)
5. Increase your happiness by 25% — (Who wouldn’t want a quarter more happiness!) (McCullough et al., 2002)

Consider taking what Ann calls the Joy Dare by training yourself to see every day things in your life as gifts (and who doesn't love a gift?!). Each day, Ann encourages you to watch out for and list 3 different types of gifts that you are grateful for.

For example, December 1st was 3 gifts that are white. I listed ultra glamourous things like my washer & dryer, my coffee maker, and my new white shirt. The thing is, once you start looking for three things, you start to open your eyes to see so many more items than the required three.

Here is what I am learning: Gratitude changes your perspective and helps you to have more joy. While there are times in life that can be discouraging, stressful and downright painful, we need to consciously train our minds to look for what is good and what is working in our lives. Just like athletes train their bodies, so must we train our minds if we want to have a deeper, more joyful experience of life.

Not long ago, I heard a radio announcer say something which really stood out for me. He said,

"What if the only things you will have tomorrow are the things you give thanks to God for would that change the way you pray?" 

Let me clear, I still have a very long way to go in changing my perspective and being more grateful (anyone who works with me or knows me well can attest to this!!!) . But as I get older, joy is something that I want more of. I don't just want a surface level of happiness. I want something deeper, richer, and more statisfying. I know I need to change the way I look at life and become far more grateful for what I do have instead of always looking at what I don't have. How about you?

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