Recently I heard an interview with poet Ross Gay. In 2019, Ross published a book of essays containing daily moments of delight that he recorded over the course of a year. Regardless of the days’ challenges, he made a commitment to finding something that brought him even a small moment of happiness. During the interview he mentioned his practice of sticking a finger in the air and audibly acknowledging the moment by exclaiming “Delight!”, which if you ask me is pretty delightful in and of itself. Ross had created for himself a daily practice of gratitude. And if you listen to the interview, it definitely seems to have worked for him.
In my own life I try to find moments like these on a regular basis, but instead of chirping “Delight!” (which I sometimes do since hearing Ross Gay’s interview), I simply smile with gratitude and acknowledgement. My aptitude for appreciation isn’t because I’m naturally a thankful person. It’s a habit that I have developed over time because research and experience have taught me it’s healthy and actually pretty fun. We all have these moments; finding money in a pocket of pants you haven’t worn in a season, a bird landing outside of an open window during a boring meeting, a large gust of wind or butterfly when you think of a loved one who has passed, or a ladybug landing on you. Small joys are all around us and can always be found when we need them the most, as long as we are open to receiving them.
Unfortunately, we humans have cultivated a cultural faux pas that often gets in the way of our appreciating life’s sweet little moments. We’ve made a habit of mistaking cynicism for common sense. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard someone say “Well, yeah, if you’re looking for a sign you’ll probably find it.” As if looking for it negates the validity of the moment in any way. If you’re looking for your glasses and find them on top of your head, does that make them any less your glasses? Um… No. Cynicism negatively affects us morally, emotionally, socially, and even physically. Whereas gratitude positively affects us in all of these areas.
So, seriously, which makes more sense; purposefully looking for and appreciating gifts from the universe or writing off the gifts as nonsense to feed egotistical intelligence? I mean… I’m just saying. So why not try it?! If we allow ourselves quiet moments in the midst of the madness, we will undoubtedly find at least one reason to be grateful each day. Chirp a quick “delight!” when the rain stops long enough for you to get to your car. Laugh out loud when a bird drops some digested berries on your shoulder! Perspective can be stronger than profundity if you allow it. Jot down some of those moments each night to experience even more benefits. Once a routine is created in which you are purposefully looking for something that makes you smile, things that make you smile begin to appear. It’s almost as if they are looking for you. It will seem as if the universe is conspiring in your favor and putting things directly in front of you as a private moment of joy for just the two of you to share! (Pssst… little secret… it totally is!). As with any practice, the purpose is… well.. practice. So remember to be kind to yourself and be patient. Some days will be more challenging than others to find a moment of thankfulness, but you can do hard things. If you commit and continue to savor small moments of joy each day, I guarantee you will be grateful that you did!
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