• Brent Stromwall

Joy By Design



More than just thankfulness, let’s practice appreciation this season. Whether at work, home, church, or on the playing field, we all want and flourish in community. In fact, God designed us to thrive in

community – in loving relationships with Him and others. But, simply expressing “Thank you,” or

handing someone a gift card or a bonus check isn’t enough to create community. While this

demonstrates gratitude, this isn’t true appreciation. Appreciation is noticing and experiencing the good and beautiful aspects of life in a relational and personal way. Appreciation is something that we feel in our bodies—it has an effect. The problem with merely expressing gratitude is that it’s not relational. If there’s no relating, there’s no community.


Part of community requires us to relate and experience joy. That means someone is glad to be with us. Their gladness activates the relational circuits in our right brain. We need someone who is important to us to be kind, gentle, understanding and empathetic. Another way to say this is--we feel loved by our people.


This is where appreciation comes in. We help others experience joy – and feel loved – when we practice appreciation. Appreciation helps us become relational so that we can grow our community.


God designed us to store our positive, joy-filled memories in the right, prefrontal cortex of the brain. When we reach back in time and relive an appreciation moment, our brain must energize and actively use the right-brain relational circuits to recall that memory. In his book The Joy Switch, Chris Coursey calls appreciation “packaged joy.” Each of these memories is a gift waiting to be unwrapped and re-experienced - feeling it in our bodies. As they are, we rebuild our joy and peace which we then share with others. These free joy-gifts are available to us to be re-experienced and shared over and over again!


Practicing appreciation prepares us to be relational with others – to express “I’m glad to be with you.” It enhances every aspect of our interactions with others. Joyful community will grow as we practice appreciation. Joy will grow as we teach others – co-workers, employees, spouses, children, and grandchildren – all to do the same. Then we can bask in the joyful goodness of our growing, loving community.


Grab your copy of The Joy Switch here: https://thrivetoday.org/joyswitch/


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