I wanted to dedicate this post to joy and gratitude. But before that, I have to acknowledge some bitterly honest struggles I've been going through.

For the past few weeks, I have been depressed and anxious. I couldn't figure out how to stop feeling this way. Every attempt I made seemed to make the pain sharper and sharper. It seemed like addressing the problem just magnified it and made me more aware of it. (Have you ever felt sad that you're sad and then you become even more sad?) It got to the point where I felt completely stuck and helpless about my mental situation. And so, as it happens when you lose hope, your spirit starts to break down. As my spirit broke down, so did my creativity. During these weeks, I had no desire to post anything or share anything as I normally would love doing. In fact, I just wanted to disconnect myself. (I knew isolation was not the answer, but it felt oddly good nonetheless.) I "took a break" from my community for about a week. 

People starting asking about me and expressing care for me-- They all seemed genuine, but it didn't make the bitterness in my heart go away. (What is wrong with me? I wondered everyday.) I was still reluctant to return to the large social events which I normally would find community. 

Before I keep going, I just want to say this: I'm still struggling through this stuff. I don't have a guarantee that everything is going to be ok. But even though I don't have that guarantee, I'd rather spend my life actively trying than spend my life in passive bitterness. I'm done with that– bitterness and self pity has gotten me nowhere. Instead, I want to pursue joy, even if it makes me look like a fool. I'm not talking about seeking and doing things that make me happy– I want to pursue the kind of joy that's not defined by circumstance. The kind of joy that comes from truly believing that what I currently have is beautiful and enough the way it is. The kind of joy that is forged by persistence and gratitude. 

I saw a glimpse of this joy today as I read over this passage: 

“Twinkle lights are the perfect metaphor for joy. Joy is not a constant. It comes to us in moments – often ordinary moments.

Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we’re too busy chasing down extraordinary moments. Other times we’re so afraid of the dark that we don’t dare let ourselves enjoy the light.

A joyful life is not a floodlight of joy. That would eventually become unbearable.

I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith.”

~ Brené Brown

... So, here is my declaration: Today, I want to start practicing gratitude because I want to be a joyful person. I want to become resilient to circumstances. Through prayer and meditation, I want to strengthen my relationship with my Father in Heaven. I want to live freely, wholeheartedly, and unafraid of the things that currently scare me. I want to become like my Father in Heaven so I can be a heavenly father to my children (when I have them). 

In efforts to practice gratitude, I was inspired to create a "gratitude jar". Everyday I write something that happened that I am grateful for, and I put it into the jar. Every morning I wake up and see this "gratitude jar" and am reminded that I have a beautiful life and that I am enough.