I used to think to be joyful was about feeling happy and focusing on the positive, never feeling sad or upset. It's easy to find joy in the mysteriously beautiful things of life like the birth of a new baby or watching a spectacular sunset. But how do you find joy in everyday life? I have been finding joy each day in counting; counting small, precious gifts of gratitude.
Sometimes life is whizzing by at such a fast speed, that sometimes I actually miss out living and enjoying it. I'm so focused on the next thing I have to get done and check of my to-do list, that life starts to feel like an emergency. Ann Voskamp is well known for her teaching and wisdom in finding deep, lasting joy through thanksgiving and gratitude. Instead of racing through life, name and call to mind the grace moments of each and every day...no matter how big or small. For that is the real secret to finding joy and living a full life, when we are able to enter into the present moment God has before us. It sounds so simple, and yet is so difficult to live out sometimes.
It amazes me sometimes how when I'm cranky or angry about something, when I catch myself and start counting the gifts in my life my entire demeanor and perspective shifts. I am drawn outside of myself. I smile (a big smile!) as I recount and name all the ways God loves me. It changes me from the inside out and I find true joy, through gratitude. In finding joy all around me, I think I slowly and becoming more who God wants me to be in this life.
In January I came home from a retreat and began to start keeping a gratitude journal. It sits on my bedside table, and it has become part of my bedtime routine. Sure I don't do it every night, but it has become a part of my evening prayer time I look forward to. I sit there with pen in hand and re-live my day. I look for gratitude, beauty, and goodness. And I always find them, even when there is sadness or pain. True, lasting joy is not about "feeling" happy all the time. Real joy is about finding and counting the gifts of beauty in life, wherever God has you. As of now, my counting is up to 746. And what I'm learning along the way in counting gifts in my life, is that I am finding true joy through gratitude. I am always on the look-out now for gifts to count and celebrate.
Live fully...Slow down... Joy is always worth the wait.