I thought it would be a good time to challenge ourselves for 2019. I know, I’m three days late (no less a dollar short), but the challenge is simple.
Every night before we go to sleep, let’s write down what we were grateful for that day. You only need one entry. It can be as wordy or short as you need it to be.
The big “ick” factor is to remember to do this. Perhaps if you get a notebook or pad of paper or even a paper towel, keep it next to your bed along with a pen. At the end of the year, we will have 365 reasons why we were grateful.
I know over this last year, while I didn’t write down everything – I did say out loud what I was grateful for. Acknowledging what you are grateful for gives you the ability to flip your thinking.
To take this thinking a little further, what’s the difference between happiness and joy? Do you know? It’s ok, I will look it up – hold on…
Merriam-Webster defines happiness as “good fortune; a state of well-being and contentment: JOY; a pleasurable or satisfying experience.” It defines joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires: DELIGHT; the expression or exhibition of such emotion: GAIETY; a state of happiness or felicity: BLISS; a source or cause of delight.”
My sister, Dawn, and I were discussing one of the questions I posted just before Christmas about choosing happiness, not only during the holiday season, but throughout the year. She said that “happiness is affected by circumstances, whereas joy is effected by knowledge and is possible IN SPITE OF circumstances.”
I chewed on that for a short while. Made complete sense. But is that possible? Can you have joy in a fairly horrendous situation?
Life Throws you a Lemon
An example that comes to my mind – what if you had a cough that wouldn’t go away? You think it’s a cold. You take some medicine, but it doesn’t quite get rid of it. You go to the doctor who orders a chest x-ray to see if perhaps the cough is pneumonia or bronchitis. You run to the imaging center, get the x-ray, and await the call from your doctor. You feel horrible. And you wait.
The next day your doctor calls to say they found a “dot” on one of your lungs, it’s pneumonia. They call in a prescription to your pharmacy and you are relieved for the diagnosis and medicine.
After two weeks of strong medicine you return to the imaging center to get another x-ray to confirm that the pneumonia has been eradicated. You get a call back shortly thereafter from your doctor and are asked to stop by to discuss the results of the x-ray.
At that point, what are you thinking? You start to get a sense that life is about to throw you a lemon, right?
“Lung cancer,” is what the doctor tells you after you and your husband have been seated. You weren’t thrown a lemon, but an entire GROVE.
Maybe not at that point are you able to find joy. Or maybe you can. I know I would need time to chew, digest, and spit out.
Happiness vs Joy
That example is exactly what happened to my mom. She had a cough for several weeks that wouldn’t go away. Finally went to her primary care doctor who ordered a chest x-ray – got it – found the dot on the x-ray – and assumed it was pneumonia. Mom returned to get a follow up x-ray, to make sure the pneumonia was gone, only to find out that the “dot” was still there. She had a biopsy done – unbeknownst to me and my sister and brother, and when mom found out it was lung cancer, was when she finally called each one of us kids.
Did my mom find joy? I am sure she did, but did it happen quickly, no. My mom always had anxiety. She would always say to me, “Helena, if I didn’t have anything to worry about, what would I do?” Mom was a very funny woman.
If you find out your husband is having an affair – no way are you happy about that. But you can be grateful that you found out. You can be grateful that you can either get your marriage back on track or walk out.
I don’t think people are in a constant state of happiness. I think happiness comes in moments. I don’t think people are in a constant state of joy, however, I do think joy is much easier to maintain than happiness.
Is it possible that if you are grateful, you are able to find joy in the middle of a crisis? Maybe after finding something to be grateful for every single day – do you train your mind to find joy. If you are in a constant grateful mindset, that when life throws you a grove, you can still find joy in your life. Maybe?
To return to the beginning, every night before we go to sleep, let’s write down what we were grateful for that day. You only need one entry. It can be as wordy or short as you need it to be. Let’s check back every once-in-a-while on GreyFeathers and see how being grateful has begun to change our thinking. You in?