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Practicing Gratitude

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by Jamie Roach

“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”― Brother David Steindl-Rast

C.S. Lewis writes, “Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” Wouldn’t we all like to have more joy in our lives?  Or how about more joy in the lives of our children and family?  

According to verifiable data and research, there is a clear pathway to more joy. Author Brené Brown often talks and writes about what she discovered in her 10-plus years of research.  She also openly acknowledges it is not what she expected. She expected to find that people who experienced a lot of joy in their daily lives would be more grateful. But what she discovered from interviewing thousands of people was all who were experiencing joy were practicing gratitude.  In other words, practicing gratitude invites joy into your life. 

It is important to understand it is a practice.  Practicing gratitude goes beyond having “an attitude of gratitude.” It is more than a feeling.  It is something tangible we do, which is why we call it a practice. It may be comparable to practicing the guitar or going to soccer practice. 

There are lots of ways to practice gratitude.  I bet you and your family can come up with some creative ones.  Here are a couple we exercised in our family. The first was modeled best by my wife.  She bought a three-year gratitude journal and every morning she began her day by listing three things for which she was grateful. She did this day after day for three years. 

By engaging in this daily discipline of practicing gratitude, she experienced more joy. I remember hearing her share how practicing gratitude gave her more energy and through it, she felt like her heart was expanding.  As practicing gratitude took root in her heart, it bore fruit in the life of our family and we all reaped its reward of deep and abiding joy. 

One of the other ways we practiced gratitude together was by incorporating it into our dinner time experience.  After someone offered a short dinner time prayer, we would take the time to go around the table and give everyone the opportunity to share one thing with the family for which they were thankful. I firmly believe this practice helped to shape the mood and environment in our home.  Practicing gratitude invited joy to sit with us around the table. A side benefit was that it gave my wife and me a wonderful glimpse inside the hearts of our kids. As we listened to them share, we learned what made them happy and brought them delight. It helped us to connect with them on a heart level.  

If your children are having a hard time coming up with things, consider asking them to think of something they would miss if it was taken away..  

Another practice I learned seems especially appropriate during the season of Thanksgiving: pass out of three pieces of candy corn to each person gathered around the table.  Then go around the table, giving each person the opportunity to share something they are grateful for. Once they have shared, they eat one of their pieces of candy. You take three trips around the table, giving everyone the opportunity to share three things for which they are grateful.  You can also use this practice as an opportunity to teach your family how to really listen to one another. 

So if you desire to experience more joy in your heart and home this holiday season, why not choose to stop and recognize those things in your life for which you are most grateful. 

 


Come to think of it, why not start right now by texting me at 913-915-6676 three things for which you are grateful! 

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