Finding Joy

 

Last week I was reminded to find joy every day, even if it’s in little things we really enjoy, such as savoring a delicious cup of coffee peacefully in the morning.

“What makes you happy?” we were asked. People said kids, exercise, helping others, laughing with friends. Happiness doesn’t just come from monumental occurrences. We were challenged to think about the last 24 hours and recall three good things that happened that made us happy. And to be specific. Where were we, what was said, how did we feel? Writing down specifics helps us remember and draw on those good feelings again whenever we need to.

It reminded me of an exercise a friend tasked me with several years ago: make a list of 100 things you’re grateful for. A gratitude list.

Try it! Literally take out paper and pen or pencil and number line by line from 1 to 100. At first, I found myself “cheating” in ways like naming each of my kids separately rather than having “my kids” as just one line item.

But as I kept at it, ideas started flowing almost faster than I could write them down. Think about indoor plumbing. How great is it that we can turn a handle and have running water anytime we please? And in most cases, it’s very clean water. We can choose hot, warm or cold. We can drink it, cook with it, draw a bath or run a shower, flush our waste away in a toilet, wash our clothes in a machine that does the work for us with a push of a button!

Not everyone has clean, running water, and I’m extremely grateful for it. I’m grateful for the eyeglasses that help me see clearly. I’m grateful for air conditioning. I’m grateful for my garden and the butterflies and bees and hummingbirds that visit daily. I’m grateful to live in a wonderful community, where I feel safe and am surrounded by natural beauty. I’m grateful to have so much energizing sunshine (have you ever lived through a gray, gloomy winter?) but I’m also so grateful when we get a nice rain. I’m grateful that I have a super comfortable rocking chair. I like to read in it—I’m grateful that I know how to read! I’m grateful for my health, family, home, car, dogs, friends, rewarding work, the computer I type this on, the Internet!, the abundance of food and gas and all the supplies we need, and on and on.

Reflecting on what I’m grateful for makes me happy! And this reminds me of another exercise, one that some people call keeping a blessing jar.

The idea is to keep an open jar on the kitchen counter or some place very handy and visible. Make it a big jar, like a cookie jar. Each time something good happens, write it down on a little slip of paper and put it in the jar. Whenever the jar gets full, or whenever you need a pick-me-up, pull out the notes and reflect on all the good things that have happened in the recent past.

It’s remarkable how quickly we can forget the good stuff, and how easy it is to take little joys for granted. Recalling even small successes and highlights of our days can make us feel happy AND grateful.

And that is a blessing!

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth Posted on August 30, 2017

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