You deserve to wring every single drop of joy out of life. (Seriously. You are amazing.) There is so much joy available! But if you don’t pay attention, you will miss it. You are legitimately a busy person with many responsibilities - often, multitasking is a must. But even when you’re on the go, you can look around you and notice wonderful things that you have overlooked before. For example, how many times have you eaten a meal without really tasting it because your mind is elsewhere? How often do you take a shower and not notice how good the hot water feels on your back? How many times have you driven past something really beautiful without seeing it? All missed opportunities.
What you spend your attention on will grow, so thinking about what’s lacking will increase what’s lacking. Unfortunately, many of us are conditioned to see the negative and miss the positive. This is a problem because obsessing about what sucks will increase the suck. Spending a lot of time thinking about cellulite and poverty? You’re just ordering up more cellulite and poverty. So let’s flip it around. Rather than what you don’t like, what do you want to create more of? What’s good?
The foundation for joy is gratitude. Gratitude is an extremely powerful tool for changing your thought patterns and improving your quality of life. It’s very simple - what in your life makes you feel happy? You can’t be grateful for things if you don't notice them. There are bits of joy all around you - just waiting to be noticed.
Wherever you are right now, look around you. What are you grateful for in this moment? They can be the big things, like your family and your health, or they can be little bits of joy, like that first sip of coffee in the morning, or a pretty flower in your neighbor’s yard. For example, are you in a place you like? Are you dressed in clothes you like? Are you near someone you love? Are you better off than you’ve been in the past? Did you have a good meal today? Are you looking forward to something? Can you see or hear or smell anything beautiful where you are right now? What’s good about your life in this specific moment?
There’s no wrong way to be grateful! A great exercise for both adults and kids is to take turns at meal time (or in the car, or whatever your daily routine allows) taking turns telling each other three things about your day for which you are thankful. It’s a great way to engage as a family and keep everyone focused on the positive. “Three Things” often turns into more than three things, or larger conversations about the great things that happened that day.
The more you practice gratitude, the more easily gratitude will come - just like strengthening a muscle. The more you do it, the better you will be at it. So once you recognize how fortunate you are, celebrate it! Toast to good things. Say “thank you” – a lot. As often as possible, say “yay!” and acknowledge your blessings. When you finish a project, take time to celebrate the journey and the accomplishment before you move on to the next task. It feels so good!
Finally, make gratitude into an end-of-day ritual. Before you go to sleep each night, reflect back on the day. How many things can you think of to be grateful for today? Rather than trying to sleep while rehashing something unpleasant, you will rest better if you can calm you mind and say ‘thank you’ to the universe, or to whatever higher power speaks to you for the great things in your life. I believe that you will find the more gratitude you feel, the more things you’ll find to be grateful for.
Have a joyful day!