Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.
~ Marianne Williamson

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.
~ Author unknown

October 25, 2015

It is pouring rain today and I am sitting at my desk at work warm and dry, sipping my tea, looking out at the rain pounding the windows. It is a perfect moment and I love it.

A good deal has been said about the importance of gratitude. How can we not be grateful for the abundance in life that we experience? If someone were to ask – what are you grateful for? – I could certainly produce a list: health; family; friends, a comfortable home, a good job and so on. But there is more to it than this. It is not a matter of simply pushing a button to bring on that “attitude of gratitude”. And that is especially so when we are discouraged; when life throws a curve ball at us; or when we are beset with anxiety about something that may not matter six months from now – or may.

What the difficult or more challenging life moments give us is an opportunity to pause. Because in so doing, we hopefully see the challenge we are experiencing in some context rather than as a magnified monster ready to swallow us up and make us forget the good stuff that is happening. This happens on many levels. For me it can be reflected in worry about someone I am close to about something that may happen but has not yet come to pass. Or it may relate to fretting about how an event will turn out.

A good antidote to worry /fretting/catastrophizing/being in the midst of a very difficult time (i.e. there actually is a problem) is taking into consideration the smaller joys in life that we experience every day. This in no way diminishes or discounts the larger things in life for which we are grateful; that said, it is the smaller ones that are around us all the time and are in their own ways gentle reminders of how good things really are – even if for a moment. I believe that the smaller moments in life culminate in a sense of joy which over time can have a profound impact on our lives. But we need to remember what these are – and remember to remember!

For me the crucial element is to pause. It is difficult (for me anyway) to live in a heightened sense of awareness and gratitude all the time. And it is really difficult to do this when I am under a tight deadline and overwhelmed with committments, or rushing to the bus, or wondering how a family matter blew out of proportion. But if I can stop – even briefly – and be present, I can then savour the moment. I think 90% is noticing. And sometimes I am rushing about so much I forget to notice. Regardless, I have been thinking about those seemingly small things for which I am grateful and bring joy. These things make my day. Here are a few:

  • That first sip of very good coffee in the morning – in a favourite mug. As someone once wisely said: Life is too short to drink bad coffee.
  • Being alone in the early morning sitting in a comfortable chair. In the fall and winter months the darkness outside is like a blanket and the sunshine in the summer is like a smile.
  • Lying cozy and warm in my bed at night.
  • A good book in my favourite chair.
  • A great cup of English Breakfast tea a china cup.
  • Hugs from my husband and three sons.
  • Trees – all kinds; any season; any weather.
  • Blue sky; stormy sky.
  • Observing an act of kindness – a young person offering a seat on the subway or someone being patient with a small child.
  • Getting a second chance when you goof up on something.
  • Sharing a concern with a friend knowing I won’t be judged or dismissed.
  • Baking (and eating) chocolate chip cookies.
  • A warm greeting by someone you may not know well – like the woman at the cafeteria at work.
  • Someone asking how you are and waiting to hear the answer.

There are many more! And enjoying these moments means noticing them now…to pause…to be grateful in the midst of adversity…to be surprised by joy.

 

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