Gratitude and joy go hand in hand. There’s an inseparable connection between thankfulness and joyfulness. A thankful heart is a joyful heart. It’s a good idea to conduct a self-review from time to time. Not only should we think about our attitude in terms of a regular basis, but also, in terms of its immediate state. Our current state of mind can have a definite effect on our overall mental and emotional (and physical) health. It’s also true, however, that our overall attitude can have a definite effect on our current state of mind.
Often, someone experiencing a lack of joy in life is also suffering from a certain level of ingratitude. That’s not to say that you’re never supposed to be unhappy. Life is full of challenges, disappointments, great sorrows and serious trials. Once we begin to understand that a thankful heart is a joyful heart, we learn that we can still have joy, even amidst the unhappy times in our lives.
Do you have a thankful heart at this moment?
Consider your current state of mind. Is there anything you would like to improve or change? If so, a good place to start is to define thankfulness. What does it mean to you? Do you have an attitude of gratitude or have you been harboring resentment, envy or frustration?
Those of us who are Christians believe God is good all the time, and that He blesses us in many ways from moment to moment. In fact, we believe life itself is one of God’s greatest blessings. We also have hope in His promise of eternal life in heaven for accepting His Son, Jesus, as our Savior and following in His Way. The wonderful thing about all of this is that it’s the basis for our gratitude AND joy. No matter what types of curve balls life throws our way, the fact that we belong to God and that He offers us Salvation means we always have good reason to be thankful and joyful.
Emotions and circumstances can affect your thankful heart
Is there a situation in your life right now that’s impeding your ability to have an attitude of gratitude? The enemy is an expert at trickery. He wants you to focus on burdens, not blessings. In fact, he tries to convince you that many of your blessings ARE burdens. Sense of entitlement and ingratitude are plagues in our society today. I make these statements without judgement because none of us is perfect and each of us is susceptible to slipping away from a thankful and joyful heart.
When a serious problem arises, it helps to try to view it from different perspectives. If you feel yourself falling into a rut or losing your sense of gratitude and joyfulness, consider what changes you can make to get your heart back on track. Such changes may not necessarily resolve the problems or trials you’re experiencing in life, but may help you stay mindful of the good that still exists and the joy you can hold in your heart in spite of your troubles.
Offering your suffering as a prayer leads to joy
By virtue of His passion and death, Jesus shows us the eternal value of suffering. He lay down His life that we might have eternal joy in heaven. This means He understands our suffering, and our pain is not in vain. We, like Him, can offer our trials and sorrows and burdens to the Father in heaven. God can take the prayers we lift up to Him and use them to bless the world and to help us grow in holiness.
We must seek joy in order to find it
If we’re always focused on what’s wrong in our lives, we’ll never have an opportunity to develop a thankful heart and to experience true joy. Joy isn’t something that is here one minute and gone the next. It is a gift that is perpetually offered to each of us, but we must seek it in order to find it. Where might joy be hidden in your day, today?
A great way to pursue joy is to write a list of 10 things you’re thankful for at the moment. Making this a regular exercise in your day-to-day life can help you develop a joyful heart. Do a little experiment. Chances are, when you think on things you’re thankful for, it will warm your heart and bring you joy.
Practical tips for increasing thankfulness and joy in your life
Giving thanks on a daily basis is the cornerstone to building a joyful heart. Writing down what you’re thankful for is good, but actually saying it out loud is even better. Thank God and thank others. Try to give thanks for someone or something every day. Also, smile more often. It’s nearly impossible to NOT feel joy when you smile.
Serving others can help us develop gratitude in life as well. Somehow, when we “do for others” it helps us be more thankful for our own blessings. Finally, be careful and deliberate about the activities, thoughts, music, reading material, news and movies you choose. If your choices are full of bad news or darkness, or have a chaotic, angry theme, you won’t feel much inspired toward thankfulness or joy. The prophet Nehemiah said, “This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (NIV 8:10) The next time you’re feeling down, remember: A thankful heart is a joyful heart!