Gratefulness is the Key Ingredient to Cultivating Joy

1 John 1:1-4

Our message concerns that which was from the beginning. We have heard it; we have seen it with our own eyes; we have gazed at it and our hands have touched it: the life-giving Word!…We bear witness to what we have seen and heard…so that your joy may be complete.

As we take in this week of celebrating thankfulness, it is a good reminder that gratefulness is the key ingredient to cultivating joy. And “Joy is the gist of the Christian Good News,” says Brother David Steindl-Rast, a very wise, old Austrian-born Benedictine monk.¬†He goes on to say:

Joy goes beyond happiness. Joy is the happiness that does not depend on what happens. It springs from gratefulness. When we begin to take things for granted, we get sucked into boredom. Boredom is deadly. Yet, everything within us longs for “life, life in fullness” (John 10:10). The key to life in fulness is gratefulness.

So tomorrow, perhaps you can be an instigator of joy cultivation in the midst of food and football, through a little intentionality.

A few Thanksgivings ago, our family tried a simple little exercise I read about in a beautiful book titled¬†Joy Starts Here. After the meal, we sat in the living room, and one by one we shared our appreciation for each another. We started with my wife Ana in the “hot seat”, and we then went around the circle giving each person a chance to share what they appreciated about Ana. Then we moved on to the person to her left, and around until everyone was adequately appreciated. The children participated as well, of course, and everyone was in tears of joy by the time we were finished! I’m getting a little emotional right now just thinking back on it. I highly recommend it! Or at least some practice of intentional gratitude and appreciation such as this. With a little planning, we can make a routine gathering incredibly more meaningful! (I did give everyone a little heads up so that they could be thinking ahead of time on what they appreciated about each person)

And as a bonus, I’ll leave you with this individual practice from Brother David:

Try this: before you open your eyes in the morning, stop and think. Remember that there are millions of blind people in this world. Surely, you will open your eyes more gratefully, even if you’d rather keep them closed a little longer and snooze on. As soon as we stop taking our eyesight for granted, gifts spring into our eyes which we did not even recognize as gifts before. To recognize a gift as gift is the first step towards gratefulness. Since gratefulness is the key to joy, we hold the key to joy, the key to what we most desire, in our own hands….

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