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15 Joyful Things

Anyone else been waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning lately?

There’s a lot to worry about with so many people going through heavy cares or acute stress over health, family, and employment. Even if I’m not experiencing these things outright, it’s hard to watch this happening to so many others.

But it’s important that we keep our spirits up. Not only for our own sakes but so that we can be supportive emotionally and materially to others; that is, present, balanced, and compassionate instead of blameful, pessimistic, and fearful.

And it’s important to us as writers, if circumstances allow, to keep going, even though it might seem all we’re doing is telling stories. It’s what we do, and it’s not irrelevant.

Here’s one way I’m staying present and optimistic. I’m thinking of things that are still good, still working, still bringing me (or should be bringing me) joy.

When I think clearly about my life right now, I see that there are many moments to savor, things that, honestly, I have taken for granted for decades. Chances to be with little victories and everyday joys instead of sailing past them while I’m thinking of something else. Like the state of the world.

Maybe it starts with a glass of water and how amazing it is that I have clean water to drink. I know that many people don’t. But even if they did, I can see it as a source of joy to drink when thirsty, at least if I’m really present for it. Just to allow myself to feel grateful for that simple thing.

And to be in the moment for a walk or exercise when I’m not in pain. Not that I’m often in pain, but still–to realize that I may not always be fit and mobile, and isn’t it a source of joy to move briskly and use body, muscles, and balance?

Winston pausing to savor an everyday moment.

And so on through the routines of the day, even if there aren’t big things to celebrate. Because, I remind myself, this is my life right now. There are times when I’ll need to plan for the future, prepare for a future event, but I don’t need to let my mind go wandering into the future when life is happening right now, with a glass of water, a breeze from the window, the first bite of a meal, a savored cup of tea, a brief interaction with a loved one, the feel of a good book in my hands, the first 20 seconds of a shower, the absence of pain as I move, the absence (for now) of mental turmoil from possible future sorrows.

Because, odd as it may sound, absence of hardship can be a dependable source of joy if I let myself be grateful, to really know that I am fortunate on this day, in this moment, to have freedom from hardship.

Thus my idea of fifteen joyful things. Every day, to notice a number of things that are in my life and that bring a moment or two of joy. I’m thinking that fifteen would be a good number to start with, until I get better at it.

What great practice for real life even in good times! But especially these times.

Stay well inside and out, is my wish for you. And also for myself, even if I have to work at it and remind myself–a lot–that this is happening. Whatever it is, it’s happening. And how joyful if I can just learn to show up for it all, in calm awareness and gratitude.


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