Two or three years ago, when the BeZine was still the Bardo Group, one of the folks (sorry no longer remember which one, though I think Terry Stewart) wrote a post suggesting that we find a partner with whom to do a text check-in every day. In this check-in you were to say how you’re feeling and what your intentions are for the day.
When I posted it on FB, a long-time friend suggested that we do it. Since I don’t “do texting” we settled on daily e-mails and my friend proposed adding three gratitudes. While we miss days here and there, we’ve very steadily kept up the practice, supporting one another through various trials and on our spiritual paths. I look forward every day to seeing her check-in, following along with her daily life so much more than I’ve been able to do for years (we’ve lived in different states for the majority of the 40+ years we’ve been friends) and in a way that strengthens our bond at deep levels.
I’ve been working for some years on improving my consciousness of gratitude –more specifically noting what I have to be grateful FOR — and this daily practice has been really good for me to add to my habit of waking up and saying thanks for something and generally trying to note and be thankful for the good stuff more.
While I like gratitude practice and find it subtly boosts my sense of well-being and feels good, I’ve never had the sort of grand, magical transformation of life that many who tout gratitude practice imply will ensue. I see its value in quiet ways and I believe in its worth as part of a spiritual path so I’m pleased to be doing the practice — but not blown away by it.
So when I recently watched Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday with Sheryl Sandberg* I sat up when they spoke quite a bit about stopping to find gratitude and joy. It intrigued me to note they talked of them interchangeably but that to me they felt different. My friend and I have both been working on allowing ourselves to be happy — a struggle for both of us — and to spend more time feeling happiness or joy.
As I contemplated gratitude and joy, I felt sometimes they would be the same thing for me (and everything on a joy list would belong as well on a gratitude list) but there are many things for which I feel grateful that don’t necessarily inspire me with joy. One example I’ve used is utilities (electric, water, etc.). Aware of how much of the world is lacking one or more of these, I feel very grateful to have them but they’re a little too ordinary to me for me to be beaming with joy because the lights are working (there might be a side debate as to whether I should and I suspect noting joy leads to feeling joy about everything).
I proposed adding “Joy” to our daily check-in and she readily agreed. I can’t speak for how she’s feeling (though indications are good 🙂 ) but I am finding a much more transformational shift happening by thinking about joy every day. Since playfulness and joyfulness, etc. are hard for me to experience, the conscious practice of noting joy is bringing it forward for me. I’m spending far more time feeling up and positive as I find joy in many places.
One day as I tried to switch from a sliver of soap that broke to a new bar of still-wrapped soap–while soapy and in the shower–I kept dropping everything. At first frustrated, I was muttering, “damn, that’s slippery” when I burst out laughing because, you know, “imagine, wet soap is slippery”. Then I noted the joy in the laughing and realized small, silly things are enough — and that made me feel joyful. My friend dubbed it “goofy joy”, which just seems perfect.
I highly recommend finding a check-in buddy with whom to share a mindful tune-in every day — and I really like our additions of gratitude and joy. If you struggle at all to find the happy, you might find a “joyful” practice to be more transformational than gratitude. I’d sure be interested in hearing other people’s experiences!
*I”m linking there but they’re taking it down in December, so this will go dead at some point. They seem to keep changing their minds about how long to make these available and whether to let people embed them. At this point I can’t find an easy way to embed and since they’re not leaving it up it didn’t seem worth pursuing…