In late May I was able to attend the Spiritual Director’s International retreat at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico. There were 32 other spiritual directors taking part in the retreat titled, Journey Toward Wholeness. It was a week of discernment and listening. For many of us that meant a time of seriousness and perhaps even somberness. But our facilitators wouldn’t allow that. In the midst of the serious work they invited and encouraged us to notice and experience joy. We were often asked to recall times in our life when we felt real joy: times that connected us with the love of God and the love of life.

It seems that science has discovered that the neuropathways in our brains are strengthened by what we pay attention to. If we are constantly seeing the negatives in our lives, that is how our brain becomes hardwired – to be anxious and depressed. But if we see the joyous things and continue to remember those and create new moments of joy, our brain will strengthen those pathways. That is a simplified version of the science, I know, but creating and remembering joyous moments and bringing gratitude into our daily routine does make a huge difference in how we experience life.

“To lust for joy is to lust for the God of life. To make joy where at first it seems there is none is to become co-creator with the God of life. When we make joy, we make a holier, happier life.” —from Called To Question by Joan Chittister.

What are some of the moments in your life that brought you the most joy? Can you bring those moments into your prayer and thank God for them? I encourage you to take cues from them to bring more moments of joy into your life. How can you see this as being a co-creator with God?