By Mariah Schultz
Y’all, do you ever struggle to be thankful? To find the joy in small things? Me too. More than anything else, I think I just forget. Life is going on all around me, and I don’t look up to see the goodness in it. Being thankful for something and finding joy in the little things of life go hand in hand.
So, my challenge to you is to take two minutes every day for a month to write down at least one thing you’re thankful for or that brought you joy.
I want to offer you two practical ways I’ve done this and had fun with it!
Practical Way Number One – Start a Thankful Space
If you keep a journal, set aside a space there to write down things/moments/people for which you are thankful.
I don’t know if you’ve experienced this in confession, but sometimes the priest will give you advice or a really practical penance to help you grow in holiness. Once, a priest gave me this penance: spend 15 minutes writing a list of things/people/places for which I am thankful. I keep a prayer journal, which sounds fancy, but it’s really just where I tell Jesus what’s going on in my heart and mind. The priest told me that he writes his list in the back of his journal, so I did the same. I’ve done that off and on for two years now, and it is such a gift.
(SIDENOTE: If you’re struggling with feeling like a spiritual failure, or are afraid of Confession, read this blog my friend Andrew wrote: Every Sinner Has a Future. If you don’t feel like you’re good enough to be a saint, check out what another friend of mine, Sean, wrote: Union with God.)
Some days, I sit down to pray and don’t know what to do with myself. Sometimes, those days bring me to start or end my prayer in my thankful space.
Here’s a picture of mine (edited not so it would look prettier, but so I could keep my thankful space just a little private):
One of my favorite parts of the thankful space is that it doesn’t have to be elaborate. A lot of days, my list looks like I’m trying to be funny: “…Socks, my toothbrush and toothpaste, the cute squirrel I saw yesterday…” Other times, I’ve got bigger stuff to talk about: “The flowers that reminded me of God’s love; my friend who stopped to tell me that she liked my haircut—it made me feel seen in the best way; the Eucharist, Confession, my family, good health…”
My point is that it’s doable.
It has the potential to change your mindset.
It has the potential to change mine.
Practical Way Number Two – Find Beauty Daily
If you do the whole social media thing, consider making your joy and gratitude a daily post. If you want to, think of a catchy sign off and hashtag and invite your friends to be joyful with you! I did this last summer and used the hashtag #DearJoyfulJuly (Instagram, or as I like to call it “the Instajams,” is my favorite form social media, so that’s what I used for mine).
If you don’t do the social media thing, you could make a group chat with some friends and share that way!
Here’s the first one I posted to Instagram last July:
I will caution you with Dear Joyful July: if you post it to social media or even just share with a group of friends, be careful to not let it become a comparison game.
It’s so easy to let things like this turn into: “Oh, Ben’s post yesterday was really great. He looks like he’s having more fun than me. I’m going to do something today that will be way more photographable and fun-looking!”
And that’s not what this is about.
This is about taking joy in your daily life and joining others in their joy, too. Let your life happen naturally and find joy in those things!!
No matter how you choose to look for joy and gratitude in your daily life, let it make a positive difference in the ways you see the world and treat others.
Catch you on the flippity-flop, my friends. Know of my prayers for y’all.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux and Pope St. John Paul the Great, pray for us!