In my current season, I take a lot of inspiration from Georgie from The Chasing Joy podcast as well as A Simple Abundance. The pursuit of both Gratitude and Joy are emphasized in A Simple Abundance; however, Sarah Ban Breathnach reasons that it is the practice of gratitude ultimately leads to joy.
Since mid-January, I have cultivated a “gratitude practice” by writing down 5 things I’m grateful for at the end of each day. Sometimes, these gratitudes are silly:
- getting compliments about how cute Hope is,
- daydreaming about visits to the national parks
- the underdog winning the Superbowl, etc
Sometimes, these gratitudes are indicative of the many fortunes I have:
- working heat in the cold
- a functioning car
- healthy parents
And other times, these gratitudes are indicative of how far I’ve come in recovery:
- the ability to withstand the wind and cold
- the strength to hike
- the joy in sharing meals with friends and family
Whether light or serious, all my gratitudes share a key common thread-they’ve lead to joy in my everyday life.
Some of the things bringing me joy recently:
- Hope and the progress I see in her
- Day trips to Tulsa to see friends
- Going to a barre class, not being triggered, and being told by the instructor after that I have great form and would be a good instructor J
- Watching Hope jump with excitement towards other dogs
- Doing crow pose and flying pigeon in yoga last week
- Volunteering at a local food pantry
- Eating two potatoes for dinner the other night, enjoying crackers, and having a daily chocolate milk shake
In reflecting on this list, gratitude for each item on this list facilitates the joy. For instance, walking in the cold and hitting certain poses in yoga are especially joyful for me because I used to be so cold and miserable in the outdoors and too fatigued to successfully practice yoga. My prior experiences make me all the more grateful for the different experience I have now, which has led me to experience pure joy.
My gratitude practice has caused me be more present in the simple moments of my life. Think about the positive you can find in your current circumstance—in some lower moments throughout my time off work, I’ve felt like a failure to launch for being 27 and staying with my parents, or angry that I did not beat my eating disorder earlier before I lost some people that I was closest too. And yet, I’ve found that I’m grateful my parents are healthy and capable of having me stay with them. I’m grateful my job is flexible and allowing me to get healthy. I’m grateful that I’ve had multiple friends come visit me despite the distance. I’m grateful for the time with my parents before they move out of state. And because of this gratitude, I’m more joyful when I do get to see my friends. When I do mundane activities with my parents like grab lunch on a Tuesday. And when I sleep until 7:30 because that doesn’t happen in my typical work week.
Previously, I wouldn’t not have considered myself a joyful or grateful individual. This simple practice has changed that, and it was so simple. If you feel like you could use some more joy in your life, start with gratitude. In a short time, you might be surprised to see what you list as bringing you joy.