Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Gratitude & joy

Guidepost #4 from Brene Brown's book 'The Gifts of Imperfection' is on "Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark."

As she says on pp. 77-78:
  • Without exception, every person I interviewed who described living a joyful life or who described themselves as joyful, actively practiced gratitude and attributed their joyfulness to their gratitude practice.
  • Both joy and gratitude were described as spiritual practices that were bound to a belief in human interconnectedness and a power greater than us.
  • People were quick to point out the differences between happiness and joy as differences between a human emotion that's connected to circumstances and a spiritual way of engaging with the world that's connected to practicing gratitude.

I think it's interesting she found that gratitude is so much more than an attitude, because attitudes don't always translate to behaviors. Rather, gratitude comes more from practice. The people she interviewed spoke of keeping gratitude journals, doing daily gratitude meditations or prayers, creating gratitude art, and even stopping during stressful, busy days to actually say out loud: "I am grateful for..." As she says, it's like gratitude without practice is a little like faith without works - it's not alive.


As for joy, she quotes Adela Rogers St. Johns
Joy seems to me a step beyond happiness. Happiness is a sort of atmosphere you can live in sometimes when you're lucky. Joy is a light that fills you with hope and faith and love.

As Brene says, "Happiness is tied to circumstances and joyfulness is tied to spirit and gratitude."

She also quotes Anne Robertson, a Methodist pastor, writer, and director of the Mass Bible Society. She explains how the Greek origins of the words happiness and joy hold different meaning for us today.
She explains that the Greek word for happiness is Makarios, which was used to describe the freedom of the rich from normal cares and worries, or to describe a person who received some form of good fortune, such as money or health. Robertson compares this to the Greek word for joy which is chairo. Chairo was described by the ancient Greeks as the "culmination of being" and the "good mood of the soul." Robertson writes, "Chairo is something, the ancient Greeks tell us, that is found only in God and comes with virtue and wisdom. It isn't a beginner's virtue; it comes as the culmination. They say the opposite is not sadness, but fear."

She notes the things that get in the way of gratitude and joy are 'scarcity & fear.'

The opposite of scarcity is not abundance - joy is not going to be a constant, but rather, "a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith."

We have to resist the urge to think to ourselves:
  • I'm not going to allow myself to feel this joy because I know it won't last.
  • Acknowledging how grateful I am is an invitation for disaster.
  • I'd rather not be joyful than have to wait for the other shoe to drop.


This was a good chapter, but I'm preoccupied at the moment. So that's it for now. I will end with this quote shared from Marianne Williamson:

"Joy is what happens to use when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are."