Browsing Tag

Happy Day Moment

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.

 

Handful of happy December 2015

Kindness = life’s glitter. Sprinkle that stuff everywhere.

We gotta do it.

We gotta be kind.

And we gotta sprinkle it all around.

Kindness. And gratefulness. And looking to the good. In ourselves. In others.

Follow me on Twitter  and my Happy Day Moments Facebook Page as I think and post about these good and kind and grateful things of life.

Here is the handful of posts from December that had the most likes, the most comments, the most shares.

Most journeys are easier when someone holds your hand.

Otters holding hands2

 

Life will always have obstacles. But you can decide to be happy anyway.

Sometimes being a kid is hard. Sometimes being a grown up is hard. Let’s all be nice to each other.

May our spirits be filled with God’s courage and our hearts with His love.

We often feel most grateful when we use our lives in ways that lift another person.

Hope doesn’t come from people or circumstances or situations. Our hope comes from God.

Focus your thinking on something you’re grateful for. Over and over again.

 

Be humble. Be gentle. Be patient. Tolerate each other in an atmosphere large with love.

Smile and speak kindly when you’re working, when shopping, when meeting strangers, when seeing friends.

We don’t repair fissures in relationships by ignoring them; we repair through forgiveness and communication.

Extending mercy and grace helps heal the tangled heart.

 

Blessings upon you in the new year! #happydaymoment

Happy play back of 2015

Living with gratitude in the play back of 2015 … in all ways … always

…from January

Since I’ve deemed myself the Happyologist-of-the-internet, I’m going to always cheerlead the idea that we can choose to live with gratitude, that we can choose to be happy, no matter where we are in our journey, no matter what chapter of our story.

Gratitude is a life-changer. It does something to the human heart.

Even when I close my eyes at night and the day spills over my soul like a dark stain. Even when my heart is parchment. Even when the space between where I am and where I desire to be is a vast valley, and way too dry.

Even when……

So I breathe. I pray. I anchor myself to gratitude. I gather my words and share them with you.

Love does not give up. Love does not lose faith. Love is hopeful. Love endures through all circumstances.

…from February

I want to understand that every day love makes a difference. That life is a gift. That love is a gift. That each day I awake and breathe is a gift.

It’s the only gift that I have right now. And my only appropriate response is gratefulness.

Gratitude can push you through life’s slumps, thrust you over the humps, and pull you out of the dumps. ‪

…from March

When we view our situation through the lens of gratefulness, instead of a self-centered mind-set, we have the potential to be happy in spite of circumstances.

Let’s acknowledge that others are bigger than the wrong things they sometimes say and do and that we’re more than the sum of a single mistake.

You can be strong by keeping quiet and trusting God.

…from April

Don’t attach your self-worth to someone else’s opinion of you. Nourish yourself with what God says you are.

You’ll have a hard time ever being happy if you aren’t grateful for what you already have.

…from May

And yet, for all the struggles, questions, hard times, there is gratitude.

Gratitude that shines a light in every dark, desolate place. Gratitude that remembers a summer, a fruitful place.

A storm, a tempest I did not foresee. Turbulent waters. And in that storm, God made me brave. Brave to cling to Him and strong to live in that dark place, that hurt place, and yet to write flickers of light. To be prepared to see and write about moments of gratitude even when life is UNHAPPY.

When it comes to the storms of life, we need gratitude to help steer us through.

Because it lifts us above circumstance.

Because it refocuses our attention.

Time and time again, that’s what I discovered. I found that whenever I navigated any rough terrifying circumstances with gratitude—even through storms and difficult Joseph-experiences and hard places, I was encouraged, strengthened, braver.

…from June

May we look for the best in others. May we always forgive. May we never lose faith.

More than likely, you’re experienced deep, hard moments. Maybe you’re like me and are in the middle of them right now. Moments of emptiness loneliness bleakness.

And yet. (Those two words are a promise.)

And yet, for all the struggles, questions, hard times, there is gratitude.

Gratitude that shines a light in every dark, desolate place. Gratitude that remembers a summer, a fruitful place.

…from July

It’s not the stuff around us – it’s the stuff within us – that really matters.

Everybody struggles. Everybody has issues. Let’s show a bit more kindness.

…from August

Thank you for your love. This statement really sums up everything.  Your love has carried me, nourished me, shaped me, encouraged me, comforted me for 35 years. And every day you say it: “I love you.” {Happy 35th anniversary to us!}

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 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.

…from September

Let the fuel of your life be love, mercy, and forgiveness.

But I also believe that that we get energy from following our passions, from committing to people and service and causes, from choosing to live with gratitude. And the fuel that creates this strength and drive comes from love and goodwill – from kindliness and humanity.

…from October

The easiest and the hardest thing to do every day is to live with gratitude, but it will transform our life if we can do it.

Don’t harbor or memorize a list of all the things you think you’ve messed up. Forgive yourself and move forward.

…from November

Let’s pause and appreciate the things we have, not the things we don’t.

Love will always have the last powerful definitive absolute word.

We can choose to be thankful and grateful, understanding the fragility of life that makes every moment so meaningful. We often waste too many moments immersing ourselves in needless distractions that steal our attention away from the things that actually matter. We should grasp the precious moments of this life and stop being distracted with the things that don’t really matter.

There is always, under the mess of life, something to be grateful for.

…from December

For with God nothing shall be impossible.

{closing 2015 with God’s grace; opening 2016 with God’s grace}

A gob(ble) of grateful

It’s not happy moments that make us grateful,

but gratefulness that makes happy moments.

A search for “grateful” in my blog posts reveals that word appears 53 times, and that doesn’t include the word “gratitude,” which appears 118 times. So, here’s my GRATEFUL recap……

My goal for this project [of posting a daily Happy Day Moment of Facebook] 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.

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.

Look for those moments. Listen for them. Wait for them. Be grateful for them.

What started as a simple essay I was asked to write morphed into a Facebook project and is now a website. The idea of choosing to be grateful, to find a “moment” even in the worst day, that was happy, that was thankful.

Because there is always a moment, no matter how small, no matter how dark the day, that is worthy of being grateful.

Because when you’re grateful, you increase your happiness by 25%!

You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to be grateful when you make a daily effort to think about good and not bad; praises and not pain; kindness and not meanness; acceptance and not rejection.

A grateful mindset can help you navigate life’s turbulence.

Grateful people are happy.

Taking in the good and being grateful is not about always putting a happy shiny face on everything, nor is it about turning away from the hard things in life. It’s about nourishing gratitude, your inner well-being, contentment, and peace—refuges to which you can always return.

So I’m all about thankfulness and gratefulness and saluting the goodness of each day.

We can choose to be thankful and grateful, understanding the fragility of life that makes every moment so meaningful. We often waste too many moments immersing ourselves in needless distractions that steal our attention away from the things that actually matter. We should grasp the precious moments of this life and stop being distracted with the things that don’t really matter.

Grateful eyes can see grace and goodness, even in complicated and thorny packages.

Catalog the kindnesses of each day. Look at what you have. You have much to be grateful for.

As I’m intentionally learning that “Living with Gratitude” changes everything, changes the way I think.

Changes the way I see things. Changes me. It’s not that I’ve never been grateful before.  But I seemed to focus my thanks when it was easy. Now I’m learning to give thanks, to live EVERY day with a sense of gratitude. Even when my heart has those hard white cold days.

David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, wrote, “The root of joy is gratefulness … It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” And the Bible tells us to be grateful “in all circumstances.”

Be joyful. Be grateful. Always.

That’s one reason why I post “Happy Day Moments” daily on my Facebook page (and on my personal Facebook page) – to live intentionally with a grateful heart, to plant words and messages of love, hope, confidence, faith and encouragement.

Every day that you wake up healthy, be grateful.

Living with gratitude, discovering a Happy Moment takes practice, believe me. But you can learn to be happy (even for a bit a fleck a jiffy of a time) each day by simply being grateful.

We all get to decide how happy we want to be. Because everyone gets to decide how grateful they are willing to be.

One of the lessons I learned in any hard sad dark season is that it’s important to stop and breathe deeply and look around me and choose to embrace a beautiful life, a grateful life, a happy life, whatever that might look like in any season of my life.

Look out the window. Just look for 30 seconds. Look and really see. Then pause and be grateful for the looking.

Right now is the best time for loving and for being grateful.

There is always, under the mess of life, something to be grateful for.

It’s easy to be cynical; it’s brave to be grateful.

Being grateful is the shortest and surest way to being happy.

Spend intentional time being grateful and you will ground yourself in God’s love.

My first real step towards becoming a “happyologist” came as a teenager when I dove into that swimming pool on that summer day and broke my neck and became a quadriplegic. There was a choice before me: become bitter or become better. {Read more of the story here.} Will I focus on what I lost? Or will I focus on what I can gain? Focus on who I was? Or who I can become? Could I still be grateful, even in the midst of this life-altering circumstance?

I decided to live with gratefulness. I chose happy.

We decide what to look for and what we see. We decide our focus.  It’s about learning, studying the ways of contentment and appreciation.  As a happyologist, I know that by slowing down, by looking differently, I choose to focus on the light, the positive, and all the reasons I have to be eternally grateful.

Start to see the good, the happy, even in the small.  Actively search for those moments, develop a posture of looking for and of finding happy. Cultivate this vision: seeing those moments, and being grateful for the happy day moments.

Be patience when you have little; be grateful when you have more than enough.

I want to understand that every day love makes a difference. That life is a gift. That love is a gift. That each day I awake and breathe is a gift.

It’s the only gift that I have right now. And my only appropriate response is gratefulness.

When we view our situation through the lens of gratefulness, instead of a self-centered mind-set, we have the potential to be happy in spite of circumstances.

You’ll have a hard time ever being happy if you aren’t grateful for what you already have.

Focusing on finding a “happy/grateful” moment in each day has made me powerful and positive and able to conquer disappointment and pain and innumerable hard places.

Some days we wake up with body aches and heart aches and life is bleak and the truth is we’re tired and we know we just may carry sadness all day long. And then. We shift our focus, we look above, we refocus and we become grateful for love and for a God who can take our aches and replace them with joy, who can be light in darkness, a compass for direction ….even in the midst of storms and difficult places.

That season of minimal color, stark branches, when the world feels forsaken, will become a season of blossoms.

And I will be grateful.

For every season holds something of value. The buried seed blooms.

Essential to living a life with joy, confidence, faith, and hope is remembering to be grateful.

By understanding that every moment of every day in every life does not have to be happy.

Only ONE moment does. ONE glimpse. ONE second. ONE breath.

And choosing to find it. Choosing to hold onto it. Choosing to claim it to redeem any hard messy heartbreaking sorrowful day. It’s our choice. Being grateful. For life.

God’s love has no “boundaries”

God’s love has no “boundaries.” No conditions. No limits. No restrictions. No margins.

Here’s something:  That Happy Day Moment Facebook Page post received 1400% more attention that any post to date.

Seriously. One thousand four hundred percent. Because of one word: boundaries.

A thought: Include “boundaries” in your post and see what happens.

I get it. Really, I do.

Boundaries of safety are crucial. Boundaries against danger. Boundaries of morality. Boundaries against co-dependency. Boundaries to protect.

But perhaps we pitch that word too carelessly over everything.

You hear “boundary” everywhere these days. And often we make it mean something it doesn’t. We throw it around when what we really mean is “I don’t care” or “I don’t have time” or “You hurt my feelings. Or “You don’t agree with me. You don’t respect me. You’re a little weird.”

So much “me”; so much “I.”

But sometimes our selfishness and self-absorption make it easy to twist the concept of boundaries into a practice God didn’t intend.

Setting boundaries can feed on the inherent self-focus of the human heart and we end up renaming our selfishness as “boundaries.” The rigid boundaries become walls.

As we think about all this boundaries stuff, let love cover us.

Let’s err on the side of mercy. Let’s open gates …

Of grace. Of unmerited favor.

We all have difficult people in our lives, yet God calls us to love them well.  To do this, maybe we ought to make all a majority of decisions based on what will best promote the other person’s spiritual and eternal good. And not so much on establishing boundaries.

Maybe walk in their shoes for awhile.

Maybe treat everyone with kindness and respect, even those who are rude to us – not because they are nice, but because we are.

Maybe treat everyone with the same level of respect we would give to our grandfather and the same level of patience we would have with our baby brother.  People will notice our kindness.

God’s love has no “boundaries.”

Maybe make decisions by asking: What would Jesus do?

I’m reminded of one of my favorite novels, In His Steps by Charles Monroe Sheldon. When I was in the hospital after a diving accident which left me a quadriplegic, my Mom often read to me since I was unable to hold a book in my hands. A friend suggested In His Steps. It touched a chord with me then, and still does today. First published in 1896, it’s the story of the Rev. Henry Maxwell, pastor of the First Church of Raymond, who challenges his congregation to not do anything for a whole year without first asking: “What Would Jesus Do?”

One Sunday morning he said: “Do not do anything without first asking, ‘What would Jesus do?’” This challenge is the theme of the novel and the driving force of the plot, which then follows individual characters as their lives are transformed by the challenge. [And ask any church youth group teen of the 1990s about their WWJD bracelet!]

So maybe in determining boundaries, why not use What Would Jesus Do as the benchmark?

God’s love has no “boundaries.”

God asks us to love others without limits or borders.

photo by: 'Ajnagraphy'