How you can experience greater joy through gratitude

By Dr. Chuck Olson

There I was minding my own business. My mission was simple: Stop by P.F. Chang’s and pick up some takeout for dinner with my sweetheart.

As I waited for the order to be filled, a family of three walked in: two everyday-looking parents, and one very extraordinary child. The child, probably six years of age, was positioned in a pretty elaborate wheelchair.

It didn’t take much time to realize that this little boy had more than his fair share of physical challenges. And what was even clearer was that his parents had their hands full in attending to his needs. This wasn’t a reality show. This was a sobering snapshot of life.

As I walked to my car with dinner in hand, I was overcome with the thought that even on my “worst” day, my challenges don’t come close to what these parents and their son deal with every day of their lives.

It was one of those moments that gripped me—and still does.

The self-talk went something like this: “Chuck, do you realize just how much you take for granted? Are you aware of how really good your life is?  Does GRATITUDE lead your life or is it just a passing thought you’ve tucked away?”

Perhaps you’ve had a similar conversation with yourself.

So what are we talking about here? Well, Wikipedia defines gratitude as “a positive emotion or attitude in acknowledgement of a benefit that one has received.” 

But God makes a different case. He turns modern wisdom upside down and says, “Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

Not much wiggle room there. No byes. No exemptions. Whether you receive a physical benefit or not, gratitude is a MUST!

So here’s the point: Joyful seniors constantly cultivate a heart of gratitude, especially when the challenges of life come knocking on their door. They look for ways to bring a blessing to each person they interact with, not the other way around.

Joyful seniors constantly cultivate a heart of gratitude, especially when the challenges of life come knocking on their door.

As you choose (note that it’s a choice) to live a life of gratitude, you will find that you are becoming more like Jesus, who provides the complete template for living a life of gratitude.

So as you go about your daily life and encounter whatever trials and challenges come your way, make this your prayer…

“Lord, forgive me for taking so much of life for granted. Help me step up to a new place of walking into my world each day full of gratitude—no matter what the circumstance.”

That, my friend, is the first step to experiencing greater joy in your life!