Have you ever felt down and wondered what you can do about it? The Bible gives us many examples of actions we can take to uplift our spirits. Have you ever thought about the connection between gratitude and joy? Gratitude and thankfulness open the door to joy, and through practical steps to cultivate joy and find joy in everyday blessings, we can experience a more joyful life.

In my personal experience and in working with patients for over 25 years, I have found that “guarding our hearts and minds” is one of the most important things we can do to not only treat depression but keep it at bay.

The Connection Between Gratitude and Joy

Scripture tells us that we reap what we sow. If we want to reap peace, we must sow thankfulness:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Gratitude and thankfulness open the door to joy.


Dr Michelle Bengtson Freedom from Depression 2b gratitude


Reflecting on my own journey through the valley of depression, I realized that I wasn’t truly grateful, even though I thought I was.

I read several books on joy because I thought, “I don’t know what this joy stuff is…” Many of the books which talked about joy indicated that you have to choose joy. At first, I dismissed this idea, thinking, “Well, that’s a bunch of bunk.” I kind of still think that, actually.

I don’t think it’s as simple as choosing joy. Because if it was that simple, we would all choose it. Right? We all want it. So if it was as simple as just choosing joy, we would have it. So I rather disagree with the assertion that it’s as simple as choosing joy.

What I learned through my trials, however, is that it’s very difficult to have joy if you don’t have gratitude; if you don’t have a grateful heart. I thought I was grateful…

What God showed me is that while I was grateful for some things, I didn’t have the degree of gratitude that God longs for.

Practical Steps to Cultivate Joy

I started realizing, as I was in a sick bed, “Wow! Yes, I was grateful for my job and I was grateful for my husband and my kids. But there was so much more!”

As I was convalescing in our guest bedroom, I started to become grateful for the little things. Like the fact that I was convalescing in a double bed that was much lower to the ground than our king-size bed that was on risers that I could not get up in. That was a big deal because I was in so much pain that to try to get up in our king-size bed, I could not do it.

So, I became grateful that we had a guest bedroom that I could get well in. I became grateful for our air-conditioning because this was in August in Texas. A Texas summer is not when you want to be without air conditioning. So I was quite grateful. It was a hundred and ten degrees outside but we had air. There are people that don’t have air conditioning. I was extremely grateful.

I was grateful for friends who checked in on my husband and brought meals, lightening his load while he took on my usual responsibilities.

God revealed to me that gratitude is indeed the doorway to joy. It’s challenging to remain depressed when your heart is filled with thankfulness. As we shift our focus from our struggles to our blessings, our perspective changes, and joy begins to flourish.

Finding Joy in Everyday Blessings

While I won’t claim that avoiding depression is as simple as being grateful, gratitude is a vital component. The enemy despises our gratitude because it shifts our focus away from our struggles and towards God’s blessings. The enemy really hates it when we are grateful.

Melody Beattie wisely said, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”


Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. Melody Beattie

I encourage you, the next time you lack joy, to start a written list of everything you feel grateful for and see if it doesn’t lift your mood a bit. What do you have to lose besides a negative mood?

Because of Him, #HopePrevails!




Struggling to find joy? Discover how gratitude and thankfulness can open the door to lasting happiness. Get practical steps to cultivate joy and find blessings in the little things. Read more and start your journey to a joyful life today!



Depression doesn’t have to become a permanent part of life.

There is hope.

Depression doesn't have to become a permanent part of life. There is hope. Hope Prevails and Hope Prevails Bible Study.

Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression and the companion Hope Prevails Bible Study help the reader understand how depression comes to be, recover their joy, reclaim their peace, and re-establish their true identity, while knowing their worth, remembering their secure destiny, and being confident that nothing separates them from God’s love.

Hope Prevails and the Hope Prevails Bible Study are must-reads for anyone suffering from depression or knows someone suffering from depression.

“It is refreshing to have a board-certified neuropsychologist acknowledge the spiritual component of depression, but it is even more impressive that Dr. Bengtson would be willing to share her own journey through the fog of despair. Her personal insights are invaluable for those who are struggling with what is often described as ‘the common cold of mental illness.’” ~ Dr. Neil T. Anderson, founder and president emeritus of Freedom in Christ Ministries, and Author of Overcoming Depression