We find ourselves drowning far too often. Drowning in dark thoughts, anxiety, fear, shame, guilt. The list truly goes on and on and on. I remember one day reading how important this thing called joy was. It was necessary and we were called to have it. But I wasn’t quite sure I was “feeling” it or even knew what “it” was.
In my definition, joy was a feeling. (If I didn’t feel joyful or happy or pleasant, I must not have it.) I soon realized that it is a trained position of the heart. It is our responsibility to tend to our gardens in all seasons of life. It’s our soul garden and our thoughts, feelings and personality dwell in there.
When the winter strikes, no one worries that flowers won’t bloom in spring. They take root and are expectant for their rebirth, come the days of sunshine. If we viewed our mental well-being this way, the tough times might not be so hard:
The harsh of winter can come and we can feel barren for a season, but spring will soon take its place again in our lives. So how do we tend to our garden and keep our joy when the going gets rough? We practice thankfulness. It sounds silly and even cliche, but it works.
I started doing this act everyday. I was inspired by a woman called Ann Voskamp to write down everything I was grateful for. Chocolate cake, sunshine, dew on the morning grass, comfortable beds, Pringles, my husband, my daughter…. And I kept writing. It started flowing out of me and everyday I would keep a list. I began to fill the pages. Ten things turned into one hundred things, which turned into hundreds of things and pretty soon I had my own little collection of lists. By doing this, it focused my attention on the things going right in my life, instead of constantly over-analyzing the things that I might feel are going wrong. Taking your mind off of the worry, and choosing to place it on gratitude, empowers you to begin renewing your mind.
The reason it is such a beautiful habit, is because it is not based off of feelings. You might be feeling depressed or concerned or full of grief, but you are channeling those feelings to choose joy anyway. By facing our feelings head on, and choosing to redirect our attention to feeling gratitude even for the difficult feelings, it grounds you back into a sense of reality. You are blessed, you are loved, you are on purpose and you are strong. You are going through a hard time, that’s okay. There is an end-date for this struggle. You will come out the other side, stronger, more alive and full of purposed joy.
I invite you to start keeping a list of all the things you are grateful for. And, in your time, to bring your gratitude to all things. You shall soon see that joy isn’t a fleeting emotion that comes and goes as the sun rises and falls. It is an ever constant source that we have access to. It’s a position of our heart.