Awakening Joy

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.
~ James Openheim

At one time in my life, when I was working really hard at changing my perspective, I decided to write a journal. This was not an ordinary Dear Diary type of journal. I decided that before I went to bed every night, I would write down a minimum of five things that made me happy that day.

Let me tell you, it was hard at the beginning. When I started off this project, I would sit in my bed and have to painfully eke out good things from my day. It was like pulling teeth, and at the beginning, I dreaded it.

But then a strange thing happened. Slowly, when good things happened throughout my day, I started paying attention to them. I started thinking, "Oh, maybe I could add this to my list. And this." And soon, I started noticing so many good things that I had to write them down during the day so I wouldn't forget all of them.

It was amazing.
I had actually managed to shift my perspective.

Suddenly, even the littlest things started being noteworthy. The crisp breath of fresh air when I stepped outside. The guy who let me merge into the lane. The woman holding the door for me. A smile. A conversation. My mother's lap. My father's laugh. I was inundated with goodness. Everything was a blessing. It was so wonderful. Life was so beautiful. I was soaked in joy.

After the year was over, I kept my journal. But I didn't start a new one. It had fulfilled its purpose. I had found gratitude and appreciation for everything, and I even managed to maintain this feeling of thankfulness long into the coming years.

A few years later, I did the exercise again, when I felt I needed it in my life. It was wonderful again to find the good things in my day. Even on the bad days, I would force myself to see how much I had in my life that others didn't. Even if I had to write down things like "good food" or "warm blanket", it just made me realize how much I had. And once again, I managed to shift my perspective toward joy.

Things changed over the years, and I admit now that my gratitude has waned. But since this year is my year - the end of my trying 7 years - I was so happy when my sister suggested we take a course called "Awakening Joy".

I needed it.

The first session of the course began this week, and one thing it suggested was that we start noticing the joyful moments in our life and spend even just five seconds soaking it in when it happens.

Let me tell you: it's not easy. When you've programmed yourself to have a general negative sentiment override, you forget how to notice the good things. You forget how to appreciate them. You even forget (sometimes) that they exist. You forget what true joy actually feels like. But I guess that's the shift. That's why I wrote those journals years ago. And that's why I am trying to shift my perspective once more.

I have spent enough time focusing on the negative. The blur that I sometimes feel my true self is stuck in is fading and I am getting back into focus. And like when I started my journal long ago, I am ready to reawaken my joy.

And I think it will be as simple as that. Deciding to do it.

Because when we put our genuine intention out into the world, we get what we need. It may not be in the form we hoped or expected, but it comes. And we have to notice it right when it happens, and then revel in it.

So I am done seeing happiness as a goal that exists somewhere in the distance. Instead, I am going to plant its seed under my feet.

And I know that I will grow.

Can you name one thing that made you happy today?


  1. Eating the breakfast toast my husband prepared for me.

  2. The sun shining through my windows when I woke up!

  3. Getting a hug from my son as he heaads off to university.