Browsing Tag

Happy Day Moment

3,000! A Milestone

It’s been a while! The line from The Princess Bride — the book, not the movie — keeps running through my mind: “What with one thing and another, three years passed.”

So, it hasn’t been exactly three years since my last blog post, but it has been three months. All the stuff of 2018. Exhausting. I can’t even.

Although posting on my website has been as saggy as my granny batwings, posting a daily Happy Day Moment on my Facebook has been as toned as my friend’s marathon-running bod. I have big feelings about this habit, this commitment to find and write a Happy Day Moment … this focus on living with gratitude.

This Happy Day Moment challenge, which I began on April 1, 2010, has now reached a milestone: #3,000. Yes, that’s 3,000 consecutive days of discovering and recording a “moment” each day that reminded me to be grateful. {Yes, you can applaud/throw confetti/send chocolates and/or vacation packages …. 😊}

I’ve realized throughout these last eight years that gratitude is like most desirable traits and qualities in that it’s not enough to simply decide to be grateful – we must actively practice it to cement its place in our lives.

There are many reasons why gratitude is such a desirable quality, aside from its inherent goodness. Let me assure you, finding a Happy Day Moment, the simple daily act of being grateful, has had a big impact on my health and happiness. It only takes a few minutes a day to choose to recall, to discover a HDM, but it can give me a lasting mood boost that takes me from feeling “okay” to feeling “great” and feeling “blessed.”

What is a Happy Day Moment?

Although I use Facebook to record my Happy Day Moments, you can write them in a notebook or journal if you choose. I’m encouraging you to try it! Begin to catalog a daily blessing, a daily “happy” moment!

Quite simply, it’s become my tool to keep track of the good things in life. No matter how difficult and defeating my day can sometimes feel, there is always a “moment,” something to feel grateful about. We can all be grateful.

While it’s tough to find that “moment,” that “something” to be grateful about during a rough patch, it’s not just another “easy to say, but hard to do” action – it can actually help rescue you during a storm.

Even more than that, regularly finding a “moment” and identifying the good things in your life can help prepare and strengthen you to deal with unexpected heartache and pain.

We all have own challenges and difficult days. Yet, even in my darkest days, my instinct is to feel grateful for the things that I do have and for the things that are going well. I let gratitude be the doorway to hope; once hopeful, I find strength and the will to take one small step that moves me to better and easier times.

It’s God’s way. It’s who we can choose to be. Grateful.

Discovering a Happy Day Moment

Your HDM is a personal endeavor that must be unique to you and your life. I’ve written about some ways that I discover “moments.”

It’s extremely simple to find your own Happy Day Moment: simply write down (or post on your Facebook/social media) the thing you are grateful for on a daily basis. Simply start noting the moment or things you notice and appreciate.

  • Coffee with a friend? Happy Day Moment it!
  • Cubs win!? Happy Day Moment it!
  • Eating popcorn? Happy Day Moment it!
  • Chocolate in the house? Happy Day Moment it!
  • That film with Benedict Cumberbatch? Happy Day Moment it!
  • Spouse killed a ginormous spider? You guessed it – Happy Day Moment it!

It really is that easy.

But try this: Use your senses! Use your heart!

  • Seeing … The sunrise out your window … A quick text from a loved one simply checking in on you … A child’s smile. … An elderly couple holding hands while walking at the mall.
  • Feeling … That morning smooch from your spouse … The warm embrace of a friend … The comfort of slipping into bed with freshly washed sheets.
  • Tasting … The strawberries you had for lunch … Tacos, oh the happy tastebuds rejoice for tacos … Cotton candy and its deliciously sweetness and how the fluffiness in your mouth feels funny. But good funny.
  • Smelling … Bacon frying, as a great man named Homer once said: “mmmmmmmmmmmm, Bacon” … Popcorn, always popcorn … Lilacs blooming in the spring.
  • Hearing … A colleague say, “Great job!” … The sound of rain falling on your window at night, calming and relaxing you … Your playlist with the songs you absolutely need to hear.
  • Knowing … The joy that Jesus loves you each and every day … The peace of having enough food and a roof over your head … That you made it through the day without crying/coughing/sneezing.

Your HDM doesn’t have to be deep. What you are grateful for can be as simple as “family” or “the new book or movie I recently enjoyed” or “this morning’s breakfast.” What you are grateful for will differ from everyone else.

  • Be conscious about your new attitude of gratitude.
  • Don’t wait for the “right time.” It’s fine to write something early in the day!
  • Focus on people rather than things. It’s okay to be thankful for your smartphone or your car, but the joy you receive from relationships should dwarf your fondness for electronics!

Benefits of Happy Day Moment

Identifying a Happy Day Moment can give you a new perspective on what is important to you and what you truly appreciate in your life. By noting what you are grateful for, you can gain clarity on what you want to have more of in your life, and what you can do without. HDMs can help you find out and focus on what really matters to you. Keeping a HDM list helps you learn more about yourself and become more self-aware. On days when you’re meh, icky and really bummed, or angry and grumpy at the world {yes, I get that way, too}, you can read through your list of HDMs to readjust your attitude and remember all the blessings in your life.

Identifying a Happy Day Moment can make you more mindful, helping you to become more grounded, making it easier to notice even more things you are grateful for! HDMs can help you feel more balanced and less thrown off by daily stress. You may notice that a lot more small, good things are happening – or maybe you’ll notice the small, good things that were already happening. Your gratitude might act as a beacon to good things and good people, drawing even more positive things to be grateful for to you. It can make you feel accomplished, even if it’s a relatively small accomplishment. We all need a win, no matter how big or small.

In case you’re wondering “What, exactly, will this practice, this habit, do for me?” – read on to learn about the potential benefits of the simple practice of being grateful and finding a Happy Day Moment.

Give this challenge of finding a daily Happy day Moment a chance. The common wisdom is that it takes three weeks to establish a new habit, so aim for at least three weeks of daily HDMs before making any judgments. The only thing you stand to lose if you don’t take to this HDM is a few minutes a day – hardly a huge loss!

Armed with these suggestions and encouragement, hopefully you’ll find it easy to begin and maintain your own habit of finding a HAPPY DAY MOMENT!

{Let me know how you’re doing! … Make a comment!}

When Timehopping is hard

I have a love/hate relationship with a Facebook app. You may know the one, Timehop, “your memories await.” The app collects your texts, photos, and social media posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Then each morning, you can scroll down “your day in history” from one to eight years ago. Oh my.

Sometimes my Timehop includes a photo of delicious pie that I gobbled down a year ago. Sometimes it includes a photo of a friend who passed away a few years ago. And sometimes there are photos from several years back of grandchildren playing at our house.

And always it includes my Happy Day Moment #___ Facebook posts. Always my discovery of a “moment” each and every day (since #1 on April 1, 2010) when I was grateful and “living with gratitude.”

So there are those memories where I smile stupidly at my phone, remembering joys and love and happiness; and then others where I have to pause, sigh, stop the scrolling, and close the app, remembering what was and what has changed. Because sometimes everything is too achingly wonderful and too achingly sad.

That’s what this life is for all of us. Life truly is HARD.

During lunch with a girlfriend not too long ago, she asked how I was doing. “Actually, I have had a real peace lately,” I said. “Then this morning some photos showed up on Timehop, and ka-plooey, some peace-adjustment was needed.”

“You should delete that app,” my friend said, she who would win trophies for her kindness.

Maybe I should.

But then, as hard as it is to read some posts or see some photos, they are my life. They are what has molded me, strengthened me, taught me. To live with gratitude. Always.

That’s my (not-so-secret) weapon. That to weather the storms of life, the seasons of pain and the seasons of joy, the times of leanness and times of bounty, the hard and the soft, when I always lean into gratitude, I don’t just survive – I become stronger.

So I won’t delete my Timehop app. I’ll let its memories, good and sad, remind me I can’t control life, but I can control how I respond when “life” happens (i.e., still being grateful). I can decide not to spend time feeling sad about a situation and missing how things used to be, but decide to be thankful for the awareness and empathy and understanding that all my memories have given me.

These, then, are some posts from my Twitter page that will pop up next year in my Timehop memories. These are a handful of my daily tweets from the summer of 2016. May they edify you, build you up, encourage you. May they make you stronger if you also have a love/hate relationship with your Timehops.

if-your-heart-is-broken-youll-find-god-right-there-if-youre-kicked-in-the-gut-hell-help-you-catch-your-breath

  • May the power of love that holds us together be greater than the power of any offenses that separate us.
  • God doesn’t reject a heart that is broken and honestly regrets the past.
  • Reconciliation with others can be long and difficult, but it usually begins with small acts of mercy and grace.
  • Never stop hoping, no matter what you’ve been through, or are going through.
  • The world will always have brokenness and sorrow. But it will also always have God’s grace.
  • It takes a strong soul with real heart to develop smiles out of situations that make us weep.
  • The glorious thing about life is we have a daily choice regarding the attitude we will embrace that day.
  • You may be frustrated and tired and weary, but don’t give up.
  • Let’s keep loving and forgiving others even when they make stupid mistakes.
  • I’m not making this up: God will walk with you through this.

 

sometimes-this-is-the-way-it-it

  • Sometimes when you least expect it, God is there with answers.
  • Sometimes when we’re kind, we still disappoint people. It’s okay. Be kind anyway.
  • When we defend our opinions, let’s do it with gentleness and respect.

When we are grateful, we are stronger, and life is more beautiful.

What people need

 

What People Need . . .

Love. Forgiveness. Encouragement.

There’s so much sadness, so much sorrow. There’s so much controversy, so much contention.

In all the noise of news reports and journalism and everything social media, there are hard things. And so much rawness in all the words. And in so many ways we speak to and treat others.

What people need most to cover all this rawness is the softness of words of love and forgiveness and encouragement. How we speak, how we treat others – it matters. In all relationships.

In this softness, we become stronger.

That’s what people need most — words that make them stronger. We can overcome the noise, the loud. We can choose how we treat others; we can choose words that encourage, words that build up, and words that bring together.

Our words can either bring together or tear apart, and here in this space, and on this Facebook Page, I want to purpose my words for bringing together. For building up. Words that point the way to what people need:  Love. Forgiveness. Encouragement.

Let’s start thinking more about how we speak, how we treat people … in all our encounters, in all our relationships:

…forgiving others and moving forward

…showing kindness and respect to others

…accepting others just the way they are

…encouraging others and cheering for them

…doing something little (or big) for others every day

…letting love be our compass

 

So here are my soft strong words for April, my thoughts, the tweets, which were liked and an echo of those things that people need most…..

  • The strongest, healthiest relationships are made up of two forgivers.The strongest, healthiest relationships are made up of two forgivers.
  • Let’s tip the scale to being more positive, more encouraging, more loving.
  • Thinking good thoughts about someone isn’t enough. We need to say the encouraging words.
  • You will be amazed how much of a difference you can make by just smiling every time you talk to someone.
  • Choose encouragement, lifting others up, not putting them down.
  • Let’s offer friendships that are generous and forgiving and guilt-free.
  • Treat all the people you meet that there is something worthwhile in them.
  • Let’s allow God’s goodness to flow through us and nourish all who cross our paths. ‪
  • Love the hard people, at the hardest times, in the kindest ways.
  • The gift of pure love allows us to bless others and accept them without condition
  • Let our love for others be sincere and active, without hypocrisy.‪
  • Make intentional time to tell others specifically how they bless you.
  • Let’s be less judgmental and cultivate a sense of wonder at each person’s uniqueness. We’re all a wee bit crazy in our own way. 
  • There is powerful freedom in admitting our weakness because it allows others to love us as we truly are.
  • Make allowances for and be patient with each other, and forgive without punishing.
  • We can either harm by the selfishness of our silence or diminished praise, or we can heal by the selflessness of our encouraging words.
  • Today give others precisely what you may think they deserve least. Grace.
  • If you really fulfill this royal law: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you’re doing well.
  • The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
  • Let our gratitude be awakened; let our love be quickened.‪
  • We all need to learn to communicate without blaming.

Above all, let’s keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. ‪

 

Today I am 60. This is what I know for sure.

Today I am 60. No, wait. [TIME OUT.] Isn’t my mom 60. Aren’t I 40? No, wait. [TIME OUT.] Let’s do the math. I was born April 30, 1956. So…..

Egads. I AM 60!

True story:

One day I’m wondering what to read for my 6th grade book report and the next day waking up and I’m 60. How did this happen?!

True Story:

Young girl. Tomboy. Christian. Gymnast. Cheerleader. Accident. Quadriplegia. God is Faithful. Jesus. Small steps. Family. College. BA. MA. Writing. Teaching. God is Faithful. Love. Marriage. Babies. God is Faithful. Mothering. Business owner. God is Faithful. Grandchildren. Joy. God is Faithful. (Some pain tears fears and stuff. Jesus always. God is Faithful. Always.)

And more of my true story…

What I know for sure after six decades:

I am grateful. For my God. And for the unconditional love and support from my Mom and Dad, my brothers and sister, husband, children, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and my friends. All my life, I have been cared for, encouraged, sustained, strengthened, sheltered, forgiven. Sixty years of gratitude.

What I know for sure after six decades:

God is faithful. In all the adventures. In all my mileage. During the happy, the scary, the joyous, the heartbreak. During the body slams, soul slams, and heart slams. When the wind was knocked out of me by unexpectedness and sometimes terrifying scenarios. When I fully understood that every day I lived and walked by faith, when I began to focus on living with gratitude, when I knew I am always His, always held by Him, always desiring to serve Him. Which doesn’t suggest that life is always gentle, or that moving on, or even getting up and out of bed is always easy. But it does promise that when times are tough, I shall always shift my focus to remembering His faithfulness.

What I know for sure after six decades:

When life isn’t going as planned, God brings me fierce grace. I will never find a bundle of affliction that does not have in it somewhere sufficient grace. When circumstances haven’t turned out as I’d hoped or prayed, I know that God is always there with grace, caring for me, and loving me. My circumstances don’t determine my peace. Although disappointments take something from me; they can leave something too: a gift, an opportunity, the possibility of creating change. His grace pours out and covers me. And there is nothing He cannot redeem.

What I know for sure after six decades:

My heart is to love like Jesus. Every. Day. The best way to improve my life, my relationships with others is to act like Him. How can I love others as Jesus loves me and participate in the kingdom work to which I’m called? By loving others when it’s hard, when it costs me something, when it’s not convenient. By choosing to be loving even when I feel wronged, misunderstood and rejected. By pouring out His love that offers patience. Love that extends kindness. Love that responds with gentleness.

What I know for sure after six decades:

I know about finding a Happy Day Moment. Finding one small thing, one small blessing. Then finding another small thing and then another. It’s a pathway to living with gratitude, and to seeing God in every moment. Every day I can choose to give thanks for something. For family and friends I love and who love me. For the world around me and the blessings I have. Being happy doesn’t mean I have everything; it means I’m thankful and appreciate what I have. Gratitude brings solace and perspective and more smiles than frowns, more laughter than tears.

The best stuff I know for sure after six decades:

It’s all about loving and gratefulness, giving grace and forgiveness. About doing all that I can do and then leaving everything up to God. The best stuff I know is that God is in control, and that with God nothing is impossible, and that Jesus loves me this I know.

I know about waiting and going slow and being patient and having faith and obeying God and believing and trusting and staying strong and living with gratitude.

I know that kindness matters. In all things. I know I can’t respond to unkindness with more unkindness.

I know my heart, my soul is nourished when I’m kind; it splinters if I’m cruel.

I know about love about compassion about sacrifice about healing about friendliness about mercy about generosity about tolerance about understanding about listening about encouraging.

I know about getting older and wiser and learning from mistakes.

I know about good and sad and happy and hard.

But it’s not always about what I know. It’s also about what I say and do.

I know about being brave.  That I should say what I need to say.  That when I don’t speak up, there’s a lot of important stuff that ends up not getting said.

It’s good to believe in myself during the hard stuff, but it’s better to believe in God during the hard stuff.

I know that I will never regret the chances I took, the love I gave out, and the gifts I shared.

So…

My odometer has rolled to that new 0 number. There have been miles and miles of ups and downs, straight roads and treacherous, detours and scenery, lost ways, stops and some speeding, getting stuck, moving backward, pushing forward. May the accelerating continue….

What I want for sure for my next decades:

I want to live with the juicy fruits of the spirit hanging from all my branches: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

I want to live by the words in John 13: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

I want to be known by His love.

I want to show more love, kindness, grace, mercy.

I want to be more forgiving, courageous, brave.

I want to be less awful.

I want to live my life like everything is a miracle.

Happy Day Moment odometer: 2200

Look for those happy moments, and you’ll find them.

If you’re my friend on Facebook, or have followed my blog for the last number of years, you know that I post a daily HAPPY DAY MOMENT.

And now the odometer has rolled around to HDM #2200. Yeah, that’s two thousand two hundred consecutive days of discovering and noticing and being grateful for a happy moment. Yeah, wow. Milestone.

Every day, at some time, I find some moment of gratitude, some moment of “happy.”

This identifying and reporting a Happy Day Moment has become a spiritual practice, a habit…and my super power is believing that we can all find a Happy Day Moment.

I take note of my gratitude for a moment in the day when things are good, or I feel blessed, or I merely remember that I’m alive.

Mostly, the moments are tiny and commonplace, not usually moments of grandeur or enormous successes. They are moments of small human connection, that smile, that morning kiss, or a sudden bit of humor, or a child’s laughter, or the elderly couple holding hands, or the glimpse of a cardinal on a branch, or even a moment of peace during a hectic day.

Throughout the years, however, I’ve noticed that I’m capable of finding happy moments smack in the middle of the tough and painful and hurting moments. The comfort from a friend when I’m sad can be a happy moment, right in the midst of a very hard time. The kindness of someone bringing a cup of coffee when I’ve had a stressful and exhausting day can be a happy moment. The prayers from those who know my heartache can be a happy moment.

Yes, life is still good and there can still be gratitude, even when difficult stuff happens.

This practice doesn’t shield me from the hard times or a denial that dark times will always exist, but acknowledging my “moment” brings me unshakable joy and gratitude for the miracle that is my life.

Becoming aware of a happy day moment takes a personal effort, paying attention to the instances of the blessings of life, shining a spotlight on the small good things.

This year, my friend Shelly Gage decided to look for and find her daily happy moments. She has taken up and run with the #happydaymoment baton on her Facebook page. I’ve read her posts and observed that she has found moments of happy with her husband, her doggies, and her love of reading, running, and Greek’s pizza.

But she’s also found her “happy” moments even in the midst of painful days with migraines or work frustrations.

#‎HappyDayMoment #8 – the headache finally went away and I could read a little bit.

#‎HappyDayMoment #25 – walking away from the office knowing that, despite this being the Mondayest Monday I’ve experienced in a long time, I did manage to laugh at some of it with my co-workers. And make funny signs to express our frustrations with humor.

#‎HappyDayMoment #30 – the right song came on at the right time, prompting me to run a little further.

#‎HappyDayMoment #35 – a migraine is NOT nice, but the way Maggie and Sally think they can snuggle it away is sweet, as is the way they restrained their barking this afternoon. My head hurt but I could still feel the love.

‪#‎HappyDayMoment #41 – finishing an excellent book and discovering there is a sequel.

I asked Shelly about her Happy Day Moment experience:

It is human nature to focus on the negative. If you’ve worked in customer service at all you’ve heard that dire warning about how one unhappy customer will tell at least ten people about his bad experience. If he had a good experience, he might tell three people. Those are long odds for positivity. I wanted to try doing a Happy Day Moment a day in the hopes that I could beat those odds, and start seeing more of the positive. I started on January 1st and, while I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have to think hard to find a moment to share on some days, I made it through the whole month. Sometimes I remembered late, after I’d gone to bed. I could have shrugged it off but I wanted to do this, so instead I reached for my phone and made my post – better late than never.

Did posting a Happy Day Moment once a day for a month turn me into a happy, positive, bubbling person?  Of course not – that would require a personality transplant. I don’t do bubbly. What I was working toward (and am still working toward, because I’m not quitting after one month) is trying to see the positive more readily. There are always going to be things that frustrate and upset me, but I hope with practice I will be able to pay more attention to the things that make me happy and less to the ones that don’t. 

So, here’s the thing. You can do it, too! You don’t have to wait until the New Year, you can begin your Happy Day Moment ritual anytime. I started April 1, 2010.

The practice will change your life, just as it did for me. And for Shelly.