Sunday, October 12, 2008

Joy in the Journey

Thank you all so much! I really appreciate the feedback and encouragement. I'm trying to incorporate your advice and suggestions.

I am so excited about the response for guest bloggers! I have contemplated posting my email, but I hesitate because this is an open blog. We have readers from all over the place! I think that is fantastic, but since I don't know everyone, I'm nervous. So, I'll keep thinking about that one. For now, just let me know in a comment if you are ready to be a guest blogger and then, if we don't already have each other's email address, we'll figure something out.

I've decided to post every Sunday (probably at night) instead of Mondays and Thursdays, as was suggested. It's been difficult to find the time to do it during the week and we'll have more time to discuss.

As far as comments on past topics, I set it up so that I will be notified if anyone comments on a post from 8 or more days ago. If that happens, I will let you know.

Someone requested a discussion about enjoying the journey and not just focusing on the destination. Since that goes right along with the overall theme of the blog, I thought that was a great idea! What are the things that you do daily to capitalize on the joy in your life?

Here is some excellent advice from prophet President Thomas S. Monson--"Finding Joy in the Journey". If you only have time to read one thing, read that.

If you have more time, here are some of my suggestions:

Laughter. This one is a no-brainer. Laughing makes you feel better all over. Laughing when things don't go as planned is especially helpful for me. I am a planner and so when things don't go as planned, that can really blind me from the joy in life. My husband is making calzones as I type. We've always used grated cheese in the past, but I noticed that his mom's recipe says to use sliced cheese. That seems a lot easier and less messy, so I bought a ball of mozzarella instead of shredded. I just walked in to find the whole thing freshly grated by my sweet HH. I just laughed and walked away. Obviously, that's a really small example, but it just happened so that's what came to mind. Looking for reasons to laugh is a great way to enjoy the journey.

Playing with children. This one is easy for me since I'm with my two kids all day. But even if you don't have kids of your own, borrow one or two and get playing. (Mine are up for grabs if you can't find any). Follow their lead. Children always make you feel special and appreciated. They take joy in small and simple things. They love to be silly. They're so stinkin' cute! They know that dressing up like a cowboy/princess/chef is WAY more important than vacuuming the living room. And really, it is. For maximum joy finding, combine this with the aforementioned laughter. There is nothing better than sharing a great big belly laugh with a little child. Nothing.

Gratitude. I know I already mentioned this, but it's true. A thankful heart is a happy heart. Be grateful for the small things around you. I really appreciated what Amy said about being thankful to Heavenly Father. When I remember to express gratitude to Him for my blessings, I can feel His love for me even stronger. Knowing that God loves and cares about me enough to bless me with so many great things brings me the greatest joy and peace.

Stop and smell the roses. And look at them. And touch them. And fully appreciate them. Yesterday we drove to the Boston Temple. As you probably know, New England is kind of famous for beautiful fall foliage. This year seems to be the most beautiful since we moved here. So, yesterday's drive was spectacular, to say the least. But every so often, I would realize I was too caught up in what was going on inside the car that I hadn't really looked outside in a while. And I felt so disappointed for the beauty I had most certainly missed! Fortunately, the trees are abundant here, so there were still beautiful sights to see. I just wanted to make sure I saw and appreciated them all since this only lasts a few weeks a year.

Occasionally as we drove (it's kind of a long drive), I thought about how ugly the highway and cell phone towers were in the midst of all the beauty.Fortunately, I was a lot more focused on the trees than the other ugly sights.

So, I learned two life lessons in reflecting on that. 1. Don't get so caught up inside myself. Remember to look outside and focus on the great people and things surrounding me. And 2. No matter where we are or what we are doing, we can find both beauty and ugliness. We get to choose what to focus on. I know I often get so caught up in the yuckiness of the trials or even daily chores that I forget to lift my eyes to the beauty and joy around me. And then when I do, I'm amazed at how I could have not noticed all the amazingly joyful things I'm surrounded by every day. Just a simple shift in focus opens us up to so much joy!

Take a Break for Fun. I think women tend to think that they have to do everything on their to-do list before they can take care of themselves. Not true. I am very goal-oriented. When I start something, I feel I should just keep trudging along until it's done. Whatever the task, that's the way I'm inclined to tackle it. Even when we go hiking, I don't like to stop for breaks. I just want to get to the top. That's a great example in enjoying the journey, right?! My HH is not like this. He likes to take frequent breaks from whatever he's doing. That drove me crazy when we first got married. I would be in the middle of sweeping the floor and he would want to dance with me. Sounds cute, right? It took me a while to see it that way. And to realize that it was better his way. There are probably enough items on all of our "to-do" lists to keep us busy long past when we're dead. If you don't take breaks for fun, or even schedule it in, you'll never get to it.

Spread Loving kindness. I got this one from the book Happy for No Reason. I really recommend that book. The basic gist of this is to mentally send love and kindness to all those around you. I don't always remember to do it and I have to be in the right mood, too. But whenever I do it, it always puts a smile on my face and I feel so much more peace and joy within. The first time I read it, I thought it sounded ridiculous, so I don't blame you if that's what you're thinking. But give it a shot before you discount it. I like to do it when I'm driving. Everyone around me always seems so stressed out and in such a hurry. So, I like to mentally wish them all well. I feel so much more connected to other people when I do this. And like I said, I can't help but smile and feel better about everyone around me. Then instead of being annoyed with the guy who illegally passes me for going 30 mph in a residential neighborhood, I feel bad that he feels so rushed and I hope he makes it to his destination safely.

Anyway, these are just a few basic ways that I try to find joy in the everyday things and to remember that this life is all about the journey and how we choose to travel it. Thanks for the suggestion, it's been a great reminder for me! I can't wait to hear your ideas!


Ketchesons said...

Hey there, sorry I haven't been around. Life here is just normal crazy. Anyway, first, you could create an email account just for this blog in yahoo or hotmail or any service.
I have learned the hard way, to take a break and enjoy my day, the past is gone and the only thing we can do about it is NOTHING!! that is why it is so important to live fully everyday, cleaning and paying the bills are not eternal families are.
No, if I can only remember that everyday.

Nik said...

Great suggestions, Cheryl. One of my simple joys: My hubby and I carpool to and from work. One of my favorite things is walking to the car and seeing him there waiting for me. He usually walks to greet me. He doesn't have to do that, but it is nice because then we get that extra little time together before we get in the car to ride home.

My favorite one that you posted was laughter. It is important to laugh, and your cheese story brought a smile to my face. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I love all the suggestions. The hardest challenge for me to find joy is when my husband has such a bad attitude about everything. How do I not let his attitude affect mine? Also, how can I keep a good attitude and help him get one?

Nik said...

Anonymous, that is very difficult. When I am around people who have a bad attitude or are complaining a lot, I think it takes a lot of effort to not get taken down with them.

I think one of the hardest things to do is not get frustrated, especially if this is a common occurence. Especially since it is someone you see daily and spend most of your time with. I would rely a ton on prayer and making sure that you aren't isolated with the issue (like talk to a close friend, someone you know who can talk to you and keep it confidential). Changing someone else's attitude is not easy, so I think the best thing you could do is make sure you take care of yourself so you have patience and peace with the way you cope with the situation.

Melissa said...

Of course I can't remember who said it (maybe President Monson?), but at this latest conference, we were told to cherish the fingerprints on the windows. And I do. I try so hard not to get upset about the little things that make my children children! They will only be this young for this short time then I will miss it greatly. Is the destination really going to be worth it if we don't enjoy the journey?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Nik, I really appreciate your advice on the matter. Great thoughts - it means a lot!

Linda said...

You suggestion to "Stop and smell the roses. And look at them. And touch them. And fully appreciate them" really struck me. I like your suggestions of being alert and aware of what's going on around me now and choosing what to focus on.

One of my 2008 goals is to live in the moment. I love Pres Monson's words on the same subject:

"Professor Harold Hill, in Meredith Willson’s The Music Man, cautioned, 'You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.'

"There is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today, and to live most fully today...

"I remember reading the account of a man who, just after the passing of his wife, opened her dresser drawer and found there an item of clothing she had purchased when they visited the eastern part of the United States nine years earlier. She had not worn it but was saving it for a special occasion. Now, of course, that occasion would never come.

"I'n relating the experience to a friend, the husband of the deceased wife said, “Don’t save something only for a special occasion. Every day in your life is a special occasion.”

"That friend later said those words changed her life. They helped her cease putting off the things most important to her. Said she: “Now I spend more time with my family. I use crystal glasses every day. I’ll wear new clothes to go to the supermarket if I feel like it. The words ‘someday’ and ‘one day’ are fading from my vocabulary. Now I take the time to call my relatives and closest friends. I’ve called old friends to make peace over past quarrels. I tell my family members how much I love them. I try not to delay or postpone anything that could bring laughter and joy into our lives. And each morning, I say to myself that this could be a special day. Each day, each hour, each minute is special.”

Thanks for the suggestions :)

Cheryl said...

Anonymous, I just wanted to add a bit to the excellent advice Nik already gave. One thing I've learned in my marriage is that men deal w/things way differently. When my HH is grumpy (I'm lucky b/c this is rare. I'm usually the one with the bad attitude.), he usually needs space more than anything. I've talked to him about it when he's not unhappy and we agreed that I can ask him if he's upset b/c of me and that he will answer honestly w/out biting my head off. Usually, it's not b/c of and then he just needs to be left alone for a little while. However, one thing we've learned from my bad attitude is that he needs to keep his feelings about himself separate from that. Don't blame yourself or view it as a reflection of you. That's how he stays positive when I'm going through a negative period.