Joy Without the Hoopla

Hello friends. How are you? As I have been thinking of what to write this month, this story keeps coming to my mind.

So while on a foreign church mission, a friend of mine was working with a companion who was really cruel to dogs. Everywhere they went, if he saw a dog, he would kick it. To no avail, my friend could not stop his companion from kicking the dogs they encountered.

One day, he saw a puppy approaching. This time my friend wanted to do something before his companion saw it. So he picked up a rock and threw it at the puppy. Startled and afraid, the puppy ran off whining, not ever knowing that he had been spared from something far worse.

Sometimes it isn’t clear why you and I get hit, why a door closes, or why we can’t have what we want so badly. But perhaps like the puppy, maybe we were spared from something more painful, something that we could not see or anticipate.

As I have applied this principle this time around, it has brought such deep, abiding gratitude. And surprisingly, one of the by-products of this gratitude was overflowing joy—without having to add any of the hoopla.

Could this be the reason why all the experts tell us to be grateful and urge us to keep a gratitude journal? Is it really that powerful?

In the face of profound gratitude, I had this glimpse that made me want to know more. I noticed that my patience increased effortlessly; my fears were suddenly no more; and that tower of pride—that need to be right—went brittle and just crumbled. And I was so surprised by it. Really? That little, itty- bitty emotion could do all that?

(Oh, Gratitude! How strong you are. You hit your targets right on. What makes you so powerful?)

At its core, it seems that gratitude is about acceptance—and love, really. If you love your life, what is there to fear? Nothing. If you love the things you are given right now, what is it you’re waiting for? Again, nothing. Well, maybe, the real answer is that you could wait with extraordinary patience.

So recognizing that things could have been way worse or that you were spared in some way is one way to cultivate gratitude. What are other ways? How do you cultivate transformative gratitude when life does not turn out the way you expected?

Can it come from making a daily list? Or does it need to come from somewhere deeper?

Hope to hear from you.




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