Jennifer Preyss-Mathlouthi is an award-winning faith writer and columnist.

Have you ever had one of those morning where you’re flooded with gratitude?

It’s probably around the time you’re singing – loudly – in the shower, perhaps into your loofah stick, and you wonder, “Boy, I’m in a good mood.”

That’s real, y’all. That’s real joy. And long-sustained moments of frequent gratitude sparks joy.

I’ve been reflecting lately on the significance of gratitude, and how it makes a real impact in our daily lives. Gratitude invites positivity into your environment, it softens those annoyances thrown at us each week in work and relationships because we find reasons to feel thankful in our circumstance.

Gratitude, I believe, also has the ability to find disease, calm anxiety and deepen and better define our purpose.

And that’s real, y’all. Purpose is everything.

I know it’s a millennial cliché, and older generations may disagree with me on this one, but waking up in the morning with a feeling of purpose – whether it’s children or a job or the growth of a business or a humanitarian mission – and knowing our lives in this time and space matter to something or someone is the very reason civil society ticks forward.

I watched a fascinating Ted Talk not too long ago about addiction and purpose, or as the speaker Johann Hari describes it, addiction and connection.

In the talk, Hari argues all addiction – alcohol, drugs, even mobile devices – stems from a profound feeling of disconnection, whether it’s with people or one’s purpose. When we’re significantly disconnected emotionally from something or someone, he says, it’s easier to fall into addiction.

He uses the example of treating hospital patients with severe pain with the drug morphine, which is essentially heroin. Heroine is processed from morphine.

I’ve known many people (and babies born addicted to drugs) who use morphine in hospitals or with the approval of a doctor, and they have never left the hospital with a desire to do more drugs.

Yet, most everyone has heard the cautionary tale. Trying heroin even one time will make someone addicted forever. As Hari argues, one’s inability to overcome addiction may have more to do with a lack of significance, a lack of healthy and positive relationships and, perhaps, even a lack of purpose.

I’m certainly not dismissing the real struggle of those who have battled addiction and the family and friends of those who have walked through the hardest of journeys as their loved ones battle through tormenting emotional struggles. But I wonder how many people would have greater success of reaching their dreams if they would pause to consider their purpose.

Our mental health and the care we give our minds is so essential to daily life. It’s not a safeguard, it’s the safeguard for everyone’s physical and emotional wellness.

Speaking, writing and feeling moments of gratitude is scientifically proven to drive wellness. Gratitude sparks joy, joy defines purpose and purpose creates connection.

See how they’re all linked together?

Take a moment this week to consider ways you could express more gratitude. Spark joy, realize your purpose and allow yourself to experience real connections.

We are all in this journey together, and we may as well feel thankful for where we’ve been and we’re heading, and all the ways we’ll experience joy from everyone else’s purpose.

Jennifer Preyss-Mathlouthi is a thought leader on religion trends and global issues. Email her at jlpreyss@vicad.com or follow her on Twitter @jenniferpreyss or jenniferpreyss.work.

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