A slice of joy. Where will you find it today? Will it be wedged in the middle of a trip to the grocery store when your toddler lights up with excitement while running to get the free lollipop at Trader Joe’s? Will it be during a trip to the playground, when one kid falls and his sister or brother runs to comfort him? Will it be when you realize your kids are being a little too quiet, but instead of tearing the house apart, one is quietly reading to the other?
It can be hard to find quiet moments of gratitude when the days are so chaotic. Schedules are packed, kids are full of energy, the house never stops being a mess, the refrigerator seems to be empty again and the laundry full. I know I often fall into the trap of seeing all the things that need to be fixed or prevented. I aim for perfection, and often feel defeated when the house is once again a mess, when the kids are fighting with each other, when no one wants to eat the dinner I made, when one of my kids has a bad day at school, or when the fun family outing we set out on starts devolving into tears.
Instead of seeing any good, I focus on what is going wrong. My mood affects everyone else’s mood, and before you know it, no one is having a good day.
My good friend has helped me battle this feeling of being totally crabby and overwhelmed by introducing me to the idea of finding “slices of joy” throughout the day. She has a great sense of humor, and even in the midst of screaming children, she can look up and say “we are having fun!” and she is absolutely right. She helped me realize that in every day, in every activity, there are moments of good even when the overall feeling is one being totally overwhelmed.
It’s easier to find these “slices” when you are essentially doing something fun with your family, like going to the beach. It’s a lot of work to get everyone to the beach with their stuff, to fish sandy snacks out of bags, to clean up spilled water bottles, to battle tears about sandy bottoms and toes, to referee fights over sand toys, to remind kids to stop splashing or to not go in the water over their heads. I can often start to wonder why I even set out to go to the beach in the first place. But if I change my perspective, I’ll see my kids working together to build a sandcastle, or enjoy one of them running up to show me a cool shell they found, or tell me a story about the mermaids that are probably living in the seaweed a few feet away. When I begin to add up these “slices of joy,” the whole trip feels worth the effort.
The trick is to find slices of joy in tasks that are not inherently fun or relaxing. There are so many chores and worries that fill our days that we can feel completely empty and depleted by each day’s end. Spending time in the morning or at night to list things I was grateful for was helpful, but my energy would start to wear thin during the day. By finding “the slices of joy” throughout my day, I could start to refill my plate with gratitude all day long. I began to notice, and feel thankful for the good, rather than always focusing on the bad.
Finding “slices of joy” is a different state of mindfulness that helps me keep my energy up throughout the day. It helps me look for the things that are going right instead of always focusing on the things that are going wrong. I am so thankful to my friend and her “slices of joy” perspective.
Where do you find energy to face your days? How do you remind yourself to be grateful for all the good things in you life?