The holidays should be a time of joy, and while this holiday season may be better than the last, it’s still been a rough couple of years with a lot of uncertainly and a lot of loss. So what can we do to help ourselves feel joy?
According to author Brene Brown, after years of research, interviewing thousands of people, she found one surprising thing: she did not interview one person who described themselves as joyful, who did not also actively practice gratitude.
She thought the relationship between gratitude and joy was that if you were joyful, then you should be grateful, but found, in fact, the gratitude drives the joy.
But the key is “actively practicing gratitude.” It’s not just a passive attitude. You need to frequently take action to recognize all of the things you’re grateful for. These things could be small – gratitude for a sunny day or a great cup of coffee, or bigger things like your health or the happiness and success of your loved ones.
According to Brown, this doesn’t need to be complicated. You can write in a gratitude journal, but you don’t have to. You can make a habit of going around the dinner table to have each person say one thing they are grateful for. Or you can simply stop, take a minute or two each day, and say “I’m so grateful for…” – out loud or just to yourself.
Practicing gratitude invites joy into our lives and is so important to living a whole-hearted life. Even if you just spend two or three minutes each day listing the things you’re grateful for, you’ll still feel the benefits.
And by joy, Brown doesn’t mean happiness. She sees happiness as something that’s brought on by specific and short-term circumstances while joy is a deep contentment with life that is borne from practicing gratitude.
If you don’t already have a gratitude practice, try this today. Take just a minute in your busy day to stop and say, “I’m so grateful for…” and start to welcome more joy into your life!
Written by Michelle O’Brien, Manager of Marketing & Communications