Ode to Joy

So, I guess we’ll just plan on me being late with every “three moments of joy” entry, and then when I’m on time, it will be an unexpected moment… of joy.  See what I did there? Yeah, okay. Onward, then.

Yesterday was a much better day than Tuesday, that’s for sure. Still… it’s interesting to discover that moments of joy are often elusive creatures to pin down. As I mentioned before, I’m trying to stay away from moments of gratitude – of which, there are many – to focus purely on sparks of joy. What sparks joy?  It’s a thought-provoking question.  Joy can be something as simple as a baby’s laugh, which, as we all know, can light up a room. Or it can be that first barefooted step onto a white sandy beach, knowing that work remains two weeks off in the future.

Well, I didn’t visit any white, sandy beaches yesterday … but I did see and hear a baby laugh, and I’ll tell you, it was infectious. My other moments of joy were brief – and perhaps small, but looking back, they were the glue that made the day not just bearable, but oh-so-pleasant.

Moment of Joy #1:
An unknown-to-me baby’s infectious laugh which broke through a moment of not quite sadness to engulf the world in delight.

Moment of Joy #2:
Coffee.  Need I say more?  Coffee, coffee, coffee. First thing in the morning, too. I rarely have time to make a cup of coffee for myself before I go to work, and this one was there, just waiting for me, so yeah, it was a joyful way to start the day.

Moment of Joy #3:
My dog. It occurred to me yesterday, that perhaps I’ve taken advantage of it all these years, but my dog loves me. His wiggly butt and his “mommy’s home!” dance at the door when I come home after work just brightens my day… no matter what kind of day I’ve had. Oh sure, he gets treats all day long and I tell him what a good boy he is (cause let’s face it, he is), but I vow to better appreciate this unconditional love going forward. Dogs, like people, aren’t here forever, and we need to soak up their affection for as long as we have them with us.

So, spill… what were YOUR three moments of joy?

Finding Calm in the Chaos

I’ve always wondered about admired the ones who keep a cool head in the face of stressful, sad, and irritating situations. Some people just seem so damn happy all the time. And while I envy them their joyful outlook on life, they’re also annoying as hell. I mean, just how do they find such unbridled joy – let alone, so much of it – when the world around us is so often full of noise and negativity?

I will admit that I still don’t know the answer to that. It’s not alcohol. I know that much. All that gets you is naked on a table at the neighborhood TGI Fridays, dancing to piped in muzak, and no-one wins in that scenario.  As much as I’ve enjoyed my spontaneous tabletop diversions, I’ve decided to explore the idea of joy in a much more productive manner.  And I’m taking all of you along for the ride.

What prompted this experiment in happiness, you ask?  Well, walking through a bookstore recently (of course, right? a bookstore!), I saw a book called Three Moments of Joy.

The cover drew me to the book if I’m being honest. It just looked happy. Contrary to my oft-displayed demeanor, I like happy. Three Moments of Joy is a guided activity journal, and while there’s not much to the book itself, the purpose behind it is amazingly profound.  It’s intended to help us focus on finding three things that bring us a sense of joy every single day. More than that, it’s meant to change our entire outlook on life and the world around us. That’s a tall order for a book with an illustrated bird on the cover, I know. However, this book’s motto… why yes, the book has a motto… sums it up pretty well: “What you focus on, expands.”  Following this logic, it’s not such a tall order after all. Even on the worst days, we can find three small moments of joy, thereby lessening the grief or the stress or the chaos. We may have to dig deep to find those three small moments, but… what you focus on, expands.

One thing I liked about this book is that rather than have all the answers, it sends you off to find your own. This book seemed to say, “Hey, we understand life is busy and chaotic. Life can be a struggle. Life can suck. Why not try to find three things that make you happy each day? This story is yours and you’ll decide on your own path.”

“Stop and smell the roses”, has always seemed cheesy to me. I just don’t have time to do that! But maybe that’s the problem.

As I said, I’m taking you along for this enlightenment ride. I’ll post my “three moments of joy” every evening. Although, knowing me, I’ll likely end up piggybacking a few together BUT I will be giving it my best effort. Maybe you’ll share your three moments of joy with me in the comments so we can truly take this journey together.  I mean, hell, if I can do it, as curmudgeonly as I am, anyone can. Besides, who couldn’t use a little more joy in their life?  What you focus on, expands.


Gratitude Attitude

How many times now have I said on this blog how much I love my kids? I’ve lost count but it’s a lot. Why? Because I do. I love them like crazy. I love them more than words can say. But…

….I’m not always grateful. Grateful is totally different from love. Grateful means “feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness.” I’m sorry but that sounds hard. To always be feeling appreciation or showing appreciation is like clenching a muscle. No matter how much I would love to do it, I can’t keep that muscle taut. It needs a break. And it’s not voluntary. It’s just that my mind focuses on other things that I really can’t muster gratefulness for.

For instance, when I’m suctioning out the toilet because someone used a whole roll of toilet paper? Not grateful.  When someone leaves a pizza box balanced shakily on top of the butter dish and a cup half full of leftover soda in the fridge so that when I open the door to get an egg the vibration is just enough to create a food avalanche that sends sugary ginger ale cascading down the inside of the fridge, onto the floor and splashing my shoes? Not grateful.  How about when I come across old, nearly mummified food that was buried somewhere in the house like some crazed chipmunk had been here storing snacks for a long winter? So not grateful.

I know some will say to be grateful that I have a toilet to plunge and food to spill…but somehow…while my hands are deep in a disgusting mess, I just can’t seem to muster up that level of gratitude.

Yes, yes, yes, we should be grateful for the time we have here on Earth and for being surrounded by family members who love us…which I am.  And while I love my family more than life itself, I admit it…I’m not exactly grateful for the times I have spent cleaning up the science experiment of leftover meatloaf that somehow made its way into my daughter’s room and quickly forgotten.  Yeah. I’m grateful for many things…but not everything.


gratitude rock