Releasing Unexplainable Joy: The Amazing Power of Gratitude

Depression threatens each of us.  In the west we live at the highest standard of living with more modern conveniences and freedom than at any time in history.  Yet, prescriptions for anti-depressant drugs indicate an epidemic.

 

Photo by Swamibu

Photo by Swamibu

 

We’re all bombarded with negativity.  From sensationalized news that worries us, to TV programs filled with violence, to obscene music filled with hatred.

And then add to that being blindsided by our own challenges.

As one man said half kiddingly, “If I didn’t have bad luck I wouldn’t have any luck at all.”

 

But it can leave us depressed or at the very least struggling.

 

I realize there can be a myriad of causes for depression.  Way beyond the scope of this post.  And for those who struggle with true clinical depression I’m not trying to substitute for your medical care.

Yet, for the rest of us who deal with the more garden variety, one of the most amazing antidotes I’ve found is a simple technique that can be slid into the midst of everyday life.  The practice of gratitude.  Remembering to thank God throughout the day for the blessings we do have.

It unleashes joy even in a dismal day.

We find ourselves looking at the blessings we already have instead of focusing only on what we don’t.

We look for the bright side of situations rather than the negative.

It changes our overall outlook to one of positive expectation.

It draws others to us who brighten our lives.

And heck it’s a lot more fun.

 

Paul writes, “Be joyful always, pray consistently, and give thanks continually no matter what circumstances you are in.”  (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

 

Gratitude doesn’t depend on our circumstances but on our focus.

 

I’ve struggled with a melancholy personality.  When I was younger I could be happy, excited, and an hour later in the tank.  And that was on a good day when nothing bad happened.  When I really got ambushed I could be down for days.

And worry?  Don’t even get me started.

And then I would start worrying about being depressed.  That was a fun cocktail.

I look back and rarely see a period in my early life that I was truly happy for more than a few hours.

 

 

Yet, to the outside I looked like a positive person.  I covered it well.

 

For me that was the unquestionable indication that Jesus had touched me when I gave my life to him.   I discovered a peace and joy which I couldn’t explain.  Yet, my difficulties with moodiness didn’t change overnight.

Through the years I discovered this secret of looking for things to be thankful for and continually filling up on gratitude.  And it unleashed a joy and peace that’s more present than not.

Sure, I still struggle with getting down.  I have to rigidly guard my mind and attitude because it can get away from me quickly.

But overall my attitude has become one of joy and happiness.

I’ve had people tell me, “You’re one of the most positive people I’ve ever known.”

I thank them and think, “If only you really knew the whole story.”

But by God’s grace I’ve found the peace and joy he promises.  And what a better place to live.

Yet, how do we fit this in?  We’ll talk about that next time.

 

What about you?  Have you found having a focus on gratitude has changed your life?  How?

 

If you are enjoying these posts please share them to encourage someone else.  Blessings!