Gratitude and Joy: Good Friends

One reason for the great popularity of the children’s classic Goodnight Moon is that it’s really a prayer—a nighttime prayer of thanksgiving, a gentle, joyous litany of ordinary blessings.

Goodnight moon.
Goodnight cow jumping over the moon.

Goodnight light
and the red balloon. 

Goodnight bears,
Goodnight chairs … 

Years ago I developed the habit of saying thanks for five things every night. I do this last thing before bed, and sometimes I extend it to include everything I can think of that I’m thankful for in the day. The result is the cultivation of a quiet joy and peace as I retire for the night. Sometimes, if I’m troubled, I even say thank you for whatever is troubling me, knowing that God will use it all for good.  

I believe there’s a deep connection between gratitude and joy. Here’s a selection of quotes from a few others who have thought the same. 

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” -G.K. Chesterton

“The root of joy is gratefulness. It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” -David Steindl-Rast

“The best way to show your gratitude is to accept everything with joy.” -Mother Teresa

“We must know how to say, ‘Thank You.’ Our days are filled with the gifts the Lord showers on us. If we were in the habit of taking stock of them, at night we should be like a ‘queen for a day,’ dazzled and happy with so many blessings. We should then be grateful to God, secure because He gives us everything, joyful because we know that every day He will renew His gifts.” -Michel Quoist 

“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” -Karl Barth

“In a long struggle to obtain something I wanted very much from God, I gradually learned to let go. Then one day, instead of praying for my cherished desire, or for God’s will to be done, I was inspired to ask for a heart of gratitude and joy. Never have I had a prayer so instantly answered. I was handed not what I had longed for but something better: all that I had imagined I would feel and become in possessing what I desired.” -Loretta Ross-Gotta

“I thank you, God. I do not deserve anything. I am unworthy of the least regard, and yet I am made to rejoice. I am impure and worthless, and yet the world is gilded for my delight and my path is strewn with flowers.” -Henry David Thoreau

Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
My daily thanks employ;
Nor is the least a cheerful heart,
That tastes those gifts with joy.
          ~Joseph Addison

Next Post:  The Prayer of the Cross: Compass Points for a New Life

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