Joy is the serious business of Heaven” – C.S. Lewis
We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.- C.S. Lewis
I set goals every year and have done so for decades. I like accomplishing things. Getting stuff done, thus my goals tend to be accomplishment goals. This past year I diversified and set some habit goals, One of those was to practice gratitude and thanksgiving with my spouse.
I am a natural ‘Troubleshooter” and 10 years of doing safety evaluations in the air traffic system reinforced that skill. Daily asking questions like:
- Why did that happen?
- What were the causal factors leading to…?
- Why were the human factors contributing to…?
- WHAT WENT WRONG? WHY?
keeping in mind we were not paid to look at the things that went right, only the mis-steps, oppes, and, of course, all manner of aviation accidents.
Gratitude And Joy Cultivated
When I retired, this skill continued but was channeled into daily life in my head, my attitude, and (ugh) my words. I realised I was becoming an ungrateful person in practice, in spite of the fact I really was grateful. It was robbing me of my joy. Time for some intentionality!
To activate this intent, we employed a daily routine listing three things we were grateful for each night as we prepared for bed. I also, began each morning listing things I was grateful for, at that moment, during my journaling time.
At first it felt superficial, but as the days passed it began to feel more normal. We began with things like, “I am grateful for:
- clean sheets and a warm bed
- each other
- cuddly cats that purr
- technology at our fingertips
- good food to eat and nourish our bodies
- books to read
- friends and family
It evolved into to more profound things and, as time progressed, opened our eyes to speak gratitude during the day as it came to light. We did this for three months fairly consistently. When one of us retired to bed before the other, or not at home, we would text our gratitude to each other.
Installing A New Habit
This kind of a goal, is a habit goal. The rationale is to be intentional long enough to “install” it in one’s head. To retrain oneself to think and therefore be different. It is not unlike physical exercise.
We did well with our practice and I am truly amazed at the difference it has made. This is not an “ignore reality” mind game. This is simply acknowledging what is right and good, no matter how small, in light of any more looming issues at had.
Gratitude Feeds Joy
The Prophet Jeremiah stated “the joy of the Lord is your strength”. When there is gratitude present, joy emerges and you have more direct access to strength to deal with all the ugly that gets thrown at you. Jesus even said, “in the world you WILL have tribulation, BUT BE OF GOOD CHEER, I have overcome the world”.
Gratitude and joy empower you to take care of the serious business life throws at you. In the midst of bad news or serious challenges as well as in the soft, quiet goodness moments, knowing that heaven is taking care of stuff is reason enough to be joyful.
2019 Gratitude And Joy!
We will continue this practice of joy and gratitude in the new year. I have found joy is not sugarcoating, but rather a powerful change agent, both in me and in my circumstances.
What is one thing you are grateful for right now? In one word, post in the comments for all of us and see the joy come forth!