Gratitude = Joy

beautiful girl enjoying the summer sunThere was a time when my focus was on things I did not have. For many years, my glass seemed to be half empty, until I realized I was the one holding the pitcher. I changed my point of view from one of lack to one of gratitude. Through hardship and loss, I began to see life’s glass was actually full to overflowing.

Dealing with physical pain over a long period of time wore me down. After a while, life was dull. I found less joy in daily activities, and the constant discomfort kept me on edge. Every day I woke up focused on the pain. Each evening I went to sleep wishing something would change.

When I received news that my twenty-nine-year-old cousin had been killed in an automobile accident, I experienced a dramatic shift in the way I viewed life. Physical pain turned into a positive sign that I was still alive. It was surprising to discover how much my pain decreased when my focus changed from living in pain to appreciating the life I had.

After being downsized from a job, I faced the daily temptation to just give up. Instead, I spent eighteen months getting up each morning with renewed determination. I became grateful for the opportunity to return to my parents’ home, spend time with them, and help around the house. My father was dealing with bladder cancer. Being able to share these moments with him strengthened my resolve. My lengthy unemployment had a silver lining.

That lining turned gold when I found employment and drove through the gates of Berry College in Rome, Georgia, for the first time. The magnificent beauty of the campus was breathtaking. Its twenty-six thousand acres of trees, pastures, meadows, lakes, streams, cattle, sheep, and other wildlife were magical. I was instantly in love with the herds of small deer that wandered between the buildings as if they were a different kind of student. I was in heaven.

Although I have not worked for Berry College in many years, I am deeply grateful for that job. It was the opportunity that ended my unemployment. What a gift to have worked surrounded by such beauty in my last traditional job.

Gratitude for whatever happens in life—the positive and the seemingly negative—is my goal. For example, I appreciate the blind woman and her guide dog I met one day on the bus. She was smiling and contented as she softly stroked her handsome black Labrador. Thank you, gentle woman, for silently yet joyfully reminding me of my ability to see you, your dog, and our beautiful world.

Gratitude is feeling appreciative or thankful. The state of being grateful is the positive emotional acknowledgment of something you have already or are going to receive in the future.

Being grateful—for a sunny day, the food you have, a job, your partner, your pet, etc.—creates contentment, and appreciation for what you have gives you satisfaction. Being satisfied fills your heart with joy.

When you express gratitude, the act of being appreciative instantly connects you to your heart. Gratitude generates positive feelings: love, compassion, joy, and appreciation. When you focus on what you are thankful for, all stress, apprehension, and upset melt away.

Do you realize that the joy you receive from simply being alive is within your reach? It is true. All you need is an attitude of gratitude.

Slow down. Hug your loved ones. Take a moment to smell a rose. Feel the refreshing wind on your face. Enjoy the song of birds, the sound of water rippling in a creek, and the beautiful glow of dusk when the night creatures begin to stir. The more you find to be thankful for about life, the more life finds ways to appreciate you in return. It is the gratitude guarantee. Enjoy the little things, because the very best moments in life really are free.