Browsing Tag

Happy Day Moment

Project HDM: 10 Years

Ten years.  Yes, it’s been a decade of posting a Happy Day Moment on my Facebook page. April 1, 2010 to April 1, 2020.  Yes, that’s 3,650 consecutive days of discovering and recording a “moment” each day that reminded me to be grateful, to live with gratitude. {Yes, you can applaud/throw confetti/send chocolates and/or vacation packages …. 😊}

Why did I begin this social media project?

With so many Facebook posts that were negative, complaining, even whining, I was determined to use my status as a more positive platform.

My goal for this project was to make myself focus on some “moment” during each day where I could be positive, thankful, and “happy” that I was alive. To slow down. Just for a bit. And be grateful.

Throughout these postings, I’ve experienced days with moments of love, joy, celebration, laughter, happiness – unexpected moments. But I’ve also had some days that were really crummy and achy and some that were soaked in sadness, loss, sickness, grief and disappointments.

In every day, yes, every day, however, I found that “moment” that I could call forth as “happy.”

This experiment has been profound for me. For most of my life I’ve had a glass-half-full attitude, even when a diving accident as a 13-year-old left me a diagnosed quadriplegic. I’ve learned what being grateful can do, embracing each day. Life can be hard. I know.  But every day that I choose to look for the happy, the good, the blessing, the love, the joy – shifts my heart and my head into a better place. A place of gratitude.

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.

For in writing good words, for finding “happy” moments and sharing them, I’ve discovered that I’m more thoughtful, more encouraging, more inspired, more aware – of the goodness of life all around me.

I know it’s rather grandiose of me to think that my small little space, my Facebook presence can make a big change in how others think about gratitude, but if I’ve learned anything in the last ten years, it’s that when it comes to talking about living with gratitude, and about how we use our words – we can’t do it enough.

Words. Matter. Even on Facebook.

Words we write. Words we say.

Every year has its negatives, its disappointments, its regrets, its sorrows, its pains, its losses.

Yet, every year (if you choose to discover) has its positives, its joys, its celebrations, its wins.

Some years have more milestones than others: personal physical mental professional relational emotional financial spiritual. Some years prayers are answered; some years there is more waiting.

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. The daily practice, the discipline, the routine of choosing to look for the positive, being grateful, not always focusing on the negative, has changed me. Forever. Strengthened me to face … anything.

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. Then, sometimes they really are monumental moments: 30 years married; 35 years married; births of grandchildren; husband’s retirement; new job; son’s career and new home; Cubs win the World Series.

Throughout these years, however, I’ve noticed that I’m capable of finding happy moments smack in the middle of the tough and painful and hurting and grieving 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.

It’s impossible to think negatively when you’re focusing on the positive.

It’s impossible to have an attitude of lack when you’re embracing abundance.

It’s impossible to be judgmental, resentful, or quarrelsome when you’re thankful for your relationships.

It’s impossible to miss the lessons when you give thanks for your difficulties and obstacles.

It’s impossible to miss the moment when you’re present and grounded in each one as it comes.

I know I can keep my humor, my perspective, and my patience regardless of how my day (or life) evolves.

The key is gratitude.

After years of leaning into gratitude, I know I’ve only scratched the surface of this powerful principle. I realize my pursuit of gratitude isn’t an accident, as much as preparation for what has come my way during these last few years. Preparing to see me through – because when it comes to the struggles of life, we need gratitude to be our companion.

Because this is what happens:

Words of gratitude lift us above circumstance.

Sometimes the wall of difficulties we face appears too tall to scale. But the presence of gratitude lifts and carries us. We become stronger, more agile, infused with what we need, not just to face the barrier, but to search for a way around or over that we hadn’t considered before.

Words of gratitude refocus our attention.

They change our perspective.  We’re never off on the wrong foot when we step out in gratitude. We can’t think negatively when we focus on the positive. We’re less judgmental, resentful, or divisive when we’re thankful for our relationships (especially the complicated ones). Sometimes it’s easy to focus on our hurts or sorrows and miss all of the other places that good things are happening.  It’s possible for good things and hard things to co-exist in our lives. We show wisdom when we can focus on being thankful and noticing the good, instead of concentrating on the bad.

Words of gratitude bring us joy.

Those who live in gratitude have the most joyful lives. It’s impossible to miss the joy when we’re on the lookout for blessings. We won’t miss out on the moments when we’re present and rooted in each one as it comes.

Words are powerful. Even words written in a Facebook post.

Let’s make our words a powerful happy mission.

Let’s unleash the power of gratitude.

Happy Day Moment Tip

HDM Tip: Look for something to appreciate in this moment, where you are right now

“How are you going to live today?” What will you see? What will you notice, beyond yourself and your own circumstances?

For me, the most important thing is to live with gratitude. Yes, I know, we all get wrapped up in our own lives, in our own busyness, in our own situations. But when it comes down to it, our lives become richer, fuller, when we open our eyes, our ears, our hearts, and discover some moment to appreciate about each day.

And there is always a happy moment to discover, even when we think we’re in the middle of the most boring day, or the most painful circumstance.

Finding something to appreciate in every day is about accepting the full truth of the present moment, focusing our minds on the positive aspects of a situation.

When my Dad died last year, my Mom faced a new kind of situation, a future without the man she had loved and been married to for 63 years. She faced grief and loneliness. But here are some things she did:

  • She did not deny the darkness but chose not to live in it.

“People who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness, but they choose not to live in it. They claim that the light that shines in the darkness can be trusted more than the darkness itself and that a little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness. They point each other to flashes of light here and there, and remind each other that they reveal the hidden but real presence of God.” -Henri J.M. Nouwen, Return of the Prodigal Son

  • She felt love and gratitude for all the memories she and Dad shared, even the hard years of Dad’s dementia.
  • She felt hope and gratitude because she knew that one day she would rejoice with Dad in heaven.
  • She noticed others and looked beyond her own circumstances, choosing to give herself to loving and encouraging and ministering God’s peace and comfort to others.

Every day my Mom carries Dad’s love with her. And she will miss him every day of her life. Our whole family will. But she lives in the light; she appreciates the moments; she lives with gratitude, and that covers all her grief and loneliness.

Finding something to appreciate, a Happy Day Moment, even in those hard places and challenging circumstances, involves looking beyond those things that we didn’t choose, weren’t prepared for, and perhaps didn’t want. Instead of looking at the ways situations are hard or disappointing or bad, we can choose to focus on the things that call forth gratitude.

The key: understanding that even in the dark, there are stars. The positive emotions that arise when we identify what we appreciate, what we love, are life-changing. Gratitude, love, hope, optimism, compassion, awe, the joy of God — these all make us healthier, happier, and more satisfied with our lives.

The more you do something deliberately over time, the better shot you have at it actually working. Like finding light in darkness. Like finding something to appreciate, like living with gratitude. Like discovering a “moment” each day to appreciate.

 

Take action: Find something to appreciate about the situation you are in.

Join the discussion: Tell me about something you appreciate about today. Share in the comments or discuss on Facebook here.

 

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. ‪