By Sam McKeen

 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

Have you noticed that there seems to be a general lack of joy in our society? It is observable throughout the year but it seems to become even more apparent during the holiday season. Being joyful  may be a personal struggle for you or perhaps you have noticed the absence of joy in the lives of those close to you. The indications are sometimes subtle; superficial smiles, guarded detachment, and isolation. It is not just you. Numerous scientific studies have concluded that Americans are experiencing less joy than ever before. Unsurprisingly many of these studies have made a connection between the decline in joy and the ongoing mental health crisis. 

Christmas and the holidays in general can exacerbate this downward spiral. Knowing that this is a time of year when  one ought to be joyful shines a glaring spotlight on whatever loneliness, loss, and pain may be present. It is no surprise that many dread this time of year.

How is it possible to have joy regardless of the circumstances that you are facing? It is actually quite simple although not easy. The secret to having joy regardless of your circumstances is thankfulness. 

Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Our natural inclination is to fixate on the bad things that we experience. We have wired our minds to automatically focus on the negative instead of the positive. We need to reverse this. Consider how things would change if when you reflected on your day, you primarily considered the good that had happened and the blessings in your life? Having an attitude of gratitude will change the way you think, the fruit of which will be greater joy in your life. Sit down today and start making a list of one hundred things you are thankful for. This is harder than you think! Not because of the lack of things to be thankful for but because it is unnatural to think this way. But it is worth it. Having a list to review and add to is a great reminder that will help you change your thinking and experience more joy in your life.

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – Jesus Christ

The coming of Jesus Christ made it possible for us to be reconciled to God. The salvation He made possible means that we can know our true purposes and experience a joyful and fulfilling life. This Christmas take time to thank God for all the ways that He has changed your life. Have a blessed and joy-filled Christmas!