Faith, Joy

Gratitude + Contentment = Joy

Busy today. Another excerpt from my speech.

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I think most of us recognize the material blessings in our life, that we live in a wealthy country, that all of our needs are met with abundance.  Some of us have a little more, some of us have a little less, but all of us are well off by the standards of the world,  so it’s not too hard to be grateful for our stuff.

I do think however that we forget to be grateful for something far more valuable than our stuff, and that is our time. We all assume that we will grow old.  We’re all going to live to be a 100, aren’t we?  But you know what? None of us are guaranteed another day.  There’s no guarantee that we’ll even make it to the end of THIS day.  We all know that.  But few of us really live as though we know it.

I recently read the story of a man who knew his days were numbered.  He knew he probably wouldn’t  live to see the next season. And what struck me in his story was the gratitude he had for each new day, even though he suffered tremendously and was dealing with a lot of anxiety.

When gratitude becomes the frame through which you view the days of your life, when you can wake up every morning, thrilled to greet another day in whatever condition you find it, then you open yourself up to experiencing joy in it’s purest form. Your sense of well-being is no longer dependent upon external things which are little more than vapor.

What I hope and pray for anyone who has read thus far is that you can learn to do this without a prodding circumstance.

Gratitude’s partner is contentment, and together they combine to give you this sense of fullness and completeness that we call joy.

There are two nasty habits that kill contentment.  One is not living in the present and the other is comparing yourself to others.

Contentment is found only in the present, in this very moment on this very day. If you are spending time regretting that you didn’t have the perfect childhood or thinking about how good life will be when your kids can finally walk/talk/get out of diapers, you are robbing yourself of contentment.

The other contentment killer is comparison. You can always look out your window and see someone who has it better.  Comparing yourself to others encourages you to focus less on what you have and more on what you have not.  Comparison allows discontent to take root, choking out gratitude and joy.  Nothing good comes of comparison.

And here’s the thing about gratitude and contentment – the only person who can rob you of these things is you.  No one but you.

So then, gratitude leads to contentment, contentment leads to joy and joy leads back to gratitude. And at the center of this cycle is peace.

The wise King Solomon wrote, “He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.”

Joy is being occupied with gladness of heart.  Joy is living in the moment with gratitude and contentment.

21 thoughts on “Gratitude + Contentment = Joy

  1. Thank you. I needed that reminder myself. My health has been getting me down lately (even tho it’s on an upswing.) I have to remind myself that I feel well enuf to be bummed about how lousy my health has been. BUT nothing that I have it terminal. All of it, is really just, uncomfortable. Discomfort is just another way of reminding you of how good things are when they’re good, right?

    I may print this and hang in on my mirror in my bathroom, so I can read it each morning & start my day out w/the correct attitude. 🙂

  2. Amen. When we choose to be grateful, we acknowledge God’s goodness, even when life may be hard. Contentment says, ‘What God has given me is good, and enough.” Discontentment is a sign we are loving the gift more than the giver. But you put it better!

  3. My husband and I often have discussions about how we’d better cherish this day, because at our ages, our days are numbered. We remind one another that, for all we know, one of us might be walking around with undiagnosed cancer; or one of us might have a heart attack at any minute. Sounds pessimistic, but it isn’t. We just want to enjoy our days, and it helps when we remember we don’t have an endless supply of them.

  4. I been guilty of comparison lately. And it has been an effort to stop it from taking over my life. Thanks for this post.

  5. You have such a gift. Whenever I read here
    I end up laughing, crying, nodding my
    head in agreement or all three. You are
    such an inspiration.

  6. I guess you could say I had prodding. As a breast cancer survivor, I have learned to cherish each day and even those pesky birthdays. I try daily to be content and not covet my neighbors’ nicer things. The most important thing though that I have learned over the past 8 years of survivorship is, you don’t take it with you, it’s just ‘stuff’ and it really is God’s stuff anyway. Everything is on loan from Him, even the loved ones in our lives.
    Thank you for this post today…A great reminder, I’m going to enjoy the heck out of this day.

  7. I love the way you described the cycle. I plan to make a circular diagram of this and place it on my bulleting board in my office.
    This is truly the day that the Lord has made. Thank you for the very well written reminder.

  8. Living in the present is something I have lately been working extra hard at. 24 hours at a time. And it works!

    After many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to make something work, or even just simple logistics, I now just turn everything over to HIM.

    Whatever life throws at me each day, I deal with to the best of my ability…and lots of prayer. Worrying about anything at all in the future accomplishes exactly nothing. It just robs you of the joy in front of you.

    Of course, I need a lot of practice and reminding when I feel myself starting to stress out over something. I’ve known the facts forever, I just keep forgetting them.

    The big one is that we never have all the information we need in order to make an “informed” decision. We never know what the future holds for us, or what circumstances may be lurking behind the scenes, of which we have no clue.

    But He knows all of that.

    So, every day, I try to be all “Let’s see what we have here.” And prayers for guidance are more frequent.

    It’s such a relief not to be nearly such a worrywart. Soooo much less stress. And a lot more gratitude, in appreciation of the blessings in front of me – of which there are always many.

  9. I’m trying to learn to live more in the moment. All my life I’ve been taught to save money, plan for the future, and avoid risk.

    It can all change in an instant. My most recent brush with mortality was a couple of years ago, and not that dramatic. I was at a medieval re-enactment. Walking alone across the battlefield at night, in the dark, I stepped in a hole.

    I thought I had broken my ankle. It turned out to just be a sprain, but all of a sudden, I couldn’t walk. That meant I wouldn’t be able to tear down our camp in the morning. I wouldn’t be able to load it in our vehicle.

    But I had a more pressing problem – how was I going to get BACK TO CAMP. I ended up crawling on my hands a knees for about a half a mile.

    Thank God I have some good friends. They showed up and helped break down and pack my, large, complicated, heavy medieval tent and equipment, and get it loaded into my vehicle.

    I’m all better now. But a stroke, heart attack, mugging, or auto-accident could have far worse consequences. And that would leave me with Pyramids not seen, Oceans not swam in, Ladies not kissed, and rapids not shot.

    And yet, you can’t not plan for retirement. If I blow all my savings now, I might get unlucky and live to be 100, with no resources, and nothing but my memories.

    Trying to work out a balance between living in the moment and planning for the future is hard.

    Sometimes this whole “adult” thing is a gyp.

    Bill

  10. I’ve seen it happen so often that people plan and plan for the future and wake up realizing they missed not only the precious moments but simply that the precious moments are what makes the future precious.

    Thanks for sharing!

  11. The part about comparing with others really resonated with me today. Just this morning I was happily doing chores in my home, intermingled with time playing with my toddler and helping him with potty training. I was content at home, in my home. Then we went to pick up my 4 year old daughter at preschool and had a playdate at a friend’s house. I was struck by how lovely the friend’s house looked. There was a fresh coat of paint on the walls, the pantry was wonderfully organized and even the kid bedrooms were completely clean and beautifully decorated. I returned to my home and was no longer content. Instead I was focusing on the areas that were messy, needed paint, cleaning, organizing, decorating. My house did not change while I was away, but my perspective did! Man, how right you are about comparing yourself to others killing contentment! Super post!

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