We can all agree; each year the holiday season seems to arrive a little quicker. Before we’re prepared, we are caught up in the chaos of holiday parties, family get-togethers, traditions, shopping, decorating, cuddling to watch all of the Christmas movies we own, wrapping presents, baking, and singing our favorite holiday tunes loud and proud. The busyness of these few weeks can overwhelmingly rob us of the joy we can feel during the holidays — the time we are supposed to be fulfilled with humble gratitude for many aspects of our lives.
Seeking joy is arguably the biggest drive in life. From a young age, we are taught to make decisions based on what will make us the happiest, or bring us the most joy. However, as we grow older, we have a tendency to focus on the low points we experience instead of being mindful and taking the opportunities to celebrate joy. I believe Brene Brown stated it best in her book Daring Greatly, “Joy is an invitation to practice gratitude, to acknowledge how truly grateful we are for the person, the beauty, the connection, or simply the moment before us.” In her book, Brown writes about how we are afraid to embrace joy because of the fear it won’t last. It’s like telling ourselves “if I really enjoy all of these moments, then I know something bad will happen to me soon”. Thinking this way only helps us to put more pressure on our low points. To help us get out of this mindset, Brown writes, “Every time we allow ourselves to lean into joy and give in to those moments, we build resilience and we cultivate hope. The joy becomes part of who we are, and when bad things happen- and they do happen- we are stronger.”
At the end of October, I had another surgery on my leg because of a fracture. For this reason, I lived in Oklahoma City with my parents the entire month of November, instead of at my home in Austin, to recover. I was sad because I thought this was another low point of my life. A few times I thought “it’s only a matter of time before my next surgery or something else happens”. Last Sunday, about 3 weeks after my surgery, I took a book and my journal to a coffee shop. After several hours, my first mug of coffee was empty and I needed a refill. I grabbed my wallet, walked to the counter to order, and patiently stood waiting for maybe 5 minutes before taking my fresh coffee back to my table. When I sat down I realized, I had done all of this without pain, soreness, or a limp. Tears filled my eyes and I smiled to myself. This was the first time I had been able to walk without pain in 5 years. In that moment, I truly felt joy.
Knowing how happy I am to have gone through this recovery, and many others, I get stronger every time because I focus on the joyful outcome. Now this holiday season will be filled with gratitude for my health, being able to spend it at home in Austin, and being with everyone I love. I’m choosing to focus on this joy, instead of being caught up in the holiday chaos.
I’d like to empower you to join me in making the choice to accept that invitation of joy instead of resisting it. We are presented with many opportunities to dwell in our joy each day. Although our joy is not constant, I want us to all strive to be grateful for what we have- celebrate it, never apologize for it, and share your gratitude. As a simple reminder, I created this iPhone and desktop wallpaper to remind us to focus on our joys each day no matter what they are.
May your holiday season be filled with joy!
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