In her#1 New York Times bestseller The Gifts of Imperfection, vulnerability researcher Brené Brown shared her guideposts to living a wholehearted life, compiled from 12 years of research on the subject.
One of the findings that emerged from her research was that the people who described themselves as joyful all had one thing in common: an active gratitude practice.
The relationship between joy and gratitude actually surprised Brown. While she expected to find that joyful people were grateful for what they had in their lives, the data indicated that it’s in fact gratitude that comes first. In the words of Brother David Steindl-Rast:
It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.
Brown emphasizes that maintaining an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is insufficient to cultivate joy unless it translates to a behavior. The wholehearted folk whom she interviewed all had a tangible practice of gratitude, whether that was journaling, meditation, or saying grace.
When the Wholehearted talk about gratitude, there are a whole bunch of verbs involved.