Originally published Monday, 11 July 2016.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:11 (NIV)
My last post was about joy, counting it ALL joy, and the gap in between our dreams and reality. At least finding joy a habit was my intention. I realize this week gratitude is directly connected to the golden thread of relationships, happiness, and abundance in life. If you’re like me, you can read a post about joy and think it’s all pink and rosy every day. I hear you saying, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll be more grateful. It might work for her but she doesn’t live out in my life. It won’t work for me.”
Oh friends, it’s time to stop kicking the tires on this life and embrace it for all it’s worth. Let’s all go bravely forward and count it all joy.
I like to go beyond a nice idea or a concept. It’s one idea to live with joy but it’s a whole new way to live with God’s joy. I’m all about application and gathering the tools of creativity, words of gratitude, love, applied discipline, to understand and get a hold of the way the concept works in your everyday life. Until you practice and witness your own shifts and awakenings, none of this makes much impact. Have confidence by faith! Joy is attainable and is a good idea. Do you follow me so far?
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11 (ESV)
The Bible is a great start to instructing us how to live and how to count everything for joy, but it’s not the whole letter of the law. You also have to apply joy to your life.
What does living in joy look like? It’s daily looking and adopting God’s ways into your life. I encourage everyone to keep a gratitude journal. Be grateful when God teaches you how to live. It’s a way to bring His character into our weaknesses. For me, when I feel left out or last in line, I go to my gratitude journal and make a list of all the ways I am blessed. Believe me when I say this, if you think you aren’t blessed to live in the land of the free and home of the brave, travel internationally to suffering and oppressed nations. You will notice the difference immediately. Gratitude journals can turn whining and complaining into thankfulness and appreciation.
So, what is a gratitude journal?
A gratitude journal is a blank notebook where you write lists for which you are grateful. Every night, before you go to bed, you take about three minutes to write down a list of five things (or any do-able number).
Some days, you might be feeling particularly abundant, and those five things just fly onto the page.
Some days, it might feel like you can’t think of even two things. Then you remember how you have a roof over your head or food to eat. Next, you remember your cat (again) and you have hot water to get clean and drink. No matter what you’re feeling, find time to write down at least five things every single night. And they don’t have to be new and different.
My experience is when I write out what I’m grateful for, those items add joy to my day. I become more in tune throughout the next day. It’s like turning on an inner-switch, and sets your awareness to look for joys to journal each night. So you might be driving out of your neighborhood in the morning, and catch the flash of a cardinal in the sunlight, and instead of blowing it off, you stop and notice it for a moment. You take it in. And you make a mental note to include the bird in your gratitude journal. Then, when you’re having lunch with a co-worker, she grabs the check and pays it. And not only do you thank her, but you make a mental note again (I carry a small notebook and pen in my purse). Your day becomes a basket where you collect things. The joy habit soon comes to life! In essence, you become a joy and gratitude magnet. And oddly enough, cool things start to find you. But you have to learn to be grateful now for all what you already have.
When you really try this, you will see how your joy increases. You see, Jesus is joy and anytime you notice the things He put in your path to bring joy or a smile to your face, His intentions change your intentions. Now not everything in this world is joyful. Believe me when I say, you can choose how you see the things of this world and how to respond to the world around you. When you feel the smile of Heaven, it makes a difference in your soul.
I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! John 15:11 (NLT)