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Thank Your Way to Joy

"The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives."- Russel M. Nelson

In the gratitude workshop that ReConnectEd to Life presents for our November Connect Ed Workshop, we discuss the difference between joy and happiness. We notice that the state of happiness that we may feel on any given day and from moment to moment is largely dependent on what we are experiencing at the time. For example, eating our favorite foods can make us happy. Playing with our beloved pet or buying a new outfit are also ways that we feel happiness. On the flip side, I would venture to say most of us aren't overly eager to take out the trash or do our taxes or go to the grocery store. However, we are back to feeling happy when those things get done. Joy, though. Joy is the more exciting feeling to play with because we ultimately get to choose whether or not to be joyful. Where happiness is dependent on what happens TO us, joy is an acquired mentality that, when practiced regularly, we can learn to live in more often than not. How does one practice joy, you may ask? Through gratitude.

My sister texted me the video to a new Dolly Parton song the other day. I listened to it, and before I go further, I mean no offense to Dolly Parton. I enjoy her "I Will Always Love You" and

"Coat of Many Colors" as much as the next person, but the lyrics to this song really struck me as sad. To quote, "When life is good again, I'll be a better friend, a bigger person when, life is good again. More thoughtful than I've been, I'll be so different then, more in the moment when, life is good again. I'll open up my heart, and let the whole world in, I'll try to make amends, when life is good again." This was a song obviously referencing the pandemic and how much better life will be when that goes away and everything is back to "normal". I also feel sadness knowing that so many people have suffered, gone without, been abused, during what are unquestionably very trying times. Throw in what is arguably the most divisive election in history, and it is easy to understand why may of our lives feel thrown into a tailspin. But hope abounds. If we let it. Through choosing joy by way of gratitude.

"Joy is the best makeup."- Anne Lamott

My sister and I had a funny little convo about the lyrics in the Dolly song. I texted her, saying that we shouldn't wait until "life is good again". Instead, we should MAKE it as good as we can NOW! She texted me back that she knew I was going to say that and I said, "YAY!" and LOL'd. That had me reflecting about the fact that there was a time when I wouldn't have responded the way I did, and instead would have agreed with the sentiments. What had changed for me? It's not that I am naive or blind to all the ways people have suffered and continue to suffer through this pandemic. It's more that I choose to focus on all the good that has come and will continue to grow through the struggles, the losses, the despair. I choose to be grateful for any reasons I can find- for the people in my life, for the good I see people doing for others, for simply being healthy and alive. If the pandemic has done anything good for us, it has reminded us that life