For many of us, this concept can be a nebulous notion. An idea that floats in and out of our consciousness depending upon how good (or bad) our lives might feel in any particular moment. A fleeting emotion that washes over us, often without warning, and seems to fade away almost as quickly as it arrived.

But the truth is, gratitude is more than just a feeling. In fact, it is the dutiful daily practice of gratitude–that is to say, the ritualizing of our appreciation for all we do have–that reveals itself, time and time again, to be one of the most crucial ingredients for creating a life of joy and meaning.

Because it’s not enough to merely notice those fleeting feelings of gratitude when they wash over us– we must summon them. Call them forward. Rouse them from their complacent slumber. We must speak them. Write them. Think them again and again— training ourselves to search for them, even in midst of all the swirling chaos around us. Because with every acknowledgement of what we’re grateful for, we create a touchstone to meaning. A shortcut back to our deepest and most sustaining joy. A path that radiates with fulfillment and contentment, even on our darkest days.

So today, friends, I invite you to begin your own gratitude practice. To find a way to honor your appreciation of the life that’s unfolding around you and in front of you and within you. To stop moving long enough to register the inherent joy woven through the ordinary moments. The profound love undergirding the small acts. The wonder and mystery from which all your many blessings continue to spring forth.

Because these acknowledgements are more than just a collection of happy thoughts: They are beacons. Markers. Signposts. All of them, guiding you down the peaceful, well-worn path back to your own overflowing joy.