Finding Joy Through Gratitude
On a 1-10 scale how would you rate the joy you are experiencing? For many people joy is elusive: a concept, a feeling that is distant and hard to connect with. Re-capturing joy can be done. It’s there, even if it feels far away.
One of my clients, Sharon*, recently confessed to me that although she is very successful in her career and has a loving family; she had lost her sense of joy. She told me that she remembers the feeling on an intellectual basis, but can’t connect with the emotional feeling of it. She leaned forward and looked longingly at me for answers. We talked about the never-ending winter, the hope of spring and the joy that can be found in summer. I reminded her that joy could be found any time, in any season.
We explored this and found that she was living mainly in the past and future, which didn’t leave much room for the present. Living in the past can bring us to a low or depressive mindset, while living the future, i.e. worry, can lead us to feelings of anxiousness. Ah, and then there’s the human sweet spot: the present moment. As hard as you try, there is no changing the past, and although present moment activities can impact the future, there is no certainty that it will be as we planned.
She reminded me of a family function she had recently hosted that was planned out beautifully, with every detail considered. But on the day of the event, several things went wrong. Her anxiousness about the event definitely didn’t help. She confided that it actually negatively impacted her, by stripping her of the joy she could have experienced but didn’t because of the worry and anxiety.
Another one of my long-term clients, Myke*, was on a path to infuse his life with joy once again. After experiencing a fairly lengthy divorce, he was resurfacing and determined to rebuild and find joy. With each passing day, his negative emotions decreased and positivity began to rise.
One day he came to a session and his first words were ‘I found joy!’ I asked him to tell me what he found. He took a deep breath and told me that joy had been in him all the time, he just needed to tune into it. He described it like tuning radio dial. “I was listening to a static-filled station, and when I turned the dial I found other stations that offered me more positive options.” He explained that his mindset had been one wrapped around the loss he was feeling in the divorce process. When he allowed himself to look forward and loosen the past, he had access to gratitude. This was a turning point for him.
That client now has a regular practice which includes a gratitude journal. Every night he spends a few moments writing about what has given him joy that day. He stops, takes a few deep breaths, and then takes pen to paper, noting all the events and moments that brought him joy.
So what brings you joy? If you were going to bump up your experience of joy by just one point, regardless of where you started on that 1-10 scale, what would you do? Maybe it’s time for a gratitude journal, or just time to be present. Whatever you do, just enjoy this life experience and let go of what no longer serves you.
Here’s to finding joy,
*Not the clients’ actual names