For today’s post, I want to pass along three points on joy that are intertwined with practicing gratitude from a great book called, “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. I ran across this as part of my sermon prep for this Sunday. We are going to talk about the practice of gratitude. Practicing gratitude — and reaping the rewards of joy and peace that come with practicing gratitude — was really one of the main points behind the sacrificial system. There’s more, of course, like recognizing dependence on God and such. But the Psalmist reminds us that God didn’t call for sacrifice because he needed to be fed but because we need to be grateful:
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving
Gratitude and joy are intimately connected. So here are the three lessons on joy and light from Brene Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly.” Enjoy!
And nothing has been a greater gift to me than the three lessons I learned about joy and light from people who have spent time in sorrow and darkness:
- Joy comes to us in moments — ordinary moments. We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary. Scarcity culture may keep us afraid of living small, ordinary lives, but when you talk to people who have survived great losses, it is clear that joy is not a constant. Without exception, all the participants who spoke to me about their losses, and what they missed the most, spoke about ordinary moments. “If I could come downstairs and see my husband sitting at the table and cursing at the newspaper …” “If I could hear my son giggling in the backyard …” “My mom sent me the craziest texts—texts— she never knew how to work her phone. I’d give anything to get one of those texts right now.”
- Be grateful for what you have. When I asked people who had survived tragedy how we can cultivate and show more compassion for people who are suffering, the answer was always the same: Don’t shrink away from the joy of your child because I’ve lost mine. Don’t take what you have for granted— celebrate it. Don’t apologize for what you have. Be grateful for it and share your gratitude with others. Are your parents healthy? Be thrilled. Let them know how much they mean to you. When you honor what you have, you’re honoring what I’ve lost.
- Don’t squander joy. We can’t prepare for tragedy and loss. When we turn every opportunity to feel joy into a test drive for despair, we actually diminish our resilience. Yes, softening into joy is uncomfortable. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s vulnerable. But every time we allow ourselves to lean into joy and give in to those moments, we build resilience and we cultivate hope. The joy becomes part of who we are, and when bad things happen— and they do happen— we are stronger.
Brown, Brene (2013-01-17). Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (pp. 124-126). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.