There is no joy without gratitude.
These words are Post-It-noted to my vanity mirror and act as my daily reminder to be thankful.
The quote – spoken by one of my favorite authors and the renowned research professor, Dr. Brené Brown — was borne from the realization that many people can’t experience joy without fear.
The fear is that something will go wrong because at the present moment it all feels so right. Furthermore, in experiencing the joy, we will only experience a greater level of loss.
A sad idea, but one that makes sense to me nonetheless.
It’s human nature to protect ourselves from vulnerability.
And I can think of few things more vulnerable than allowing ourselves to fall head-over-heels into joy while being keenly aware that the feeling could disappear.
But shielding ourselves from hurt doesn’t make the suffering any less. In fact, the opposite may be true — pain is compounded when we’re left feeling the ache of loss, and also living with the regret of not choosing that moment of deep, unbridled satisfaction.
So how does gratitude help?
In the words of Brené Brown, it lets us “soften into joy.” Gratitude is a practice of vulnerability…we appreciate moments of contentment without waiting for the other shoe to drop. And while it can’t protect us from loss and sadness, it does help us lean more deeply into the present moment, and allow us to feel happy without needing to shield ourselves from the sad.
Most importantly for me, gratitude brings with it clarity. Acknowledging the gift of the present moment, coupled with the awareness that it won’t be this way forever, allows me to participate in joy without pessimism or fear. Gratitude has shown me how to feel more deeply, engage more mindfully, and be truly thankful that I get to experience the moment and keep the memory.
Gratitude takes a magnifying glass to every moment of contentment and elevates it to one of unbridled joy.
And that’s why there’s no joy without gratitude.
So I’d like to offer up a suggestion for your week…
Look for those small moments of pleasure in your day-to-day life and then really live them: breathe them, engage with them, create them and remember them. Most of all, be grateful for them.
As always, let me know how you go.