I was finally able to finish up, “Daring Greatly” by Breene Brown (https://twitter.com/BreneBrown). There was one section that for me really stood out. She discusses the lessons learned from individuals that had experienced profound loss. There were 3 themes consistent among all she spoke with. The first was;
Joy comes to us moments – ordinary moments.
The moments they want back are those everyday ones, hearing their son or daughter giggling again in the backyard, or say listening to your spouse reminisce about scoring four touchdowns in a single game for Polk High (This is an Al Bundy reference).
If you recall, my complaint earlier was that I felt my life had too many ordinary moments. Learning this made my day. If ordinary moments are what count, then shit, maybe I’m not doing so bad after all.
What Brown is teaching us here is to appreciate those joyous little moments that most of us, me included, tend to take for granted. I wonder how many moments I’ve overlooked, because I’ve been obsessing that my moments are not as good as other people’s moments.
You want to know what the greatest part of my day is? When I pick my son up from school and he comes running over, smiling, screaming daddy. Will I post that on facebook? Hell no, but those moments are pretty fucking awesome.
Practice Gratitude for what we have.
You know those ordinary moments we take for granted? Start by recognizing them. Then once you do, ride them like a fucking wave, place all your focus and energy into them, because you never know if that wave will be your last. If you’re like me then you have spent a fair deal of time sitting on your board paddling, waiting for the perfect wave, watching wave after wave go by because it supposedly was not good enough. What if I take this one and the miss the next wave, which could be the best wave of the day?
Every single day when I pick up my son I have the intention that I’m going to fully embrace and be present in the moment when I first see him. Do I succeed all the time? Nope, but I’m doing a lot better than I used to. Every time when I feel that feeling of joy or happiness, I become totally present in that moment, feeling grateful for it. I don’t sit on my board paddling, watching wave after wave pass, missing out on some of life’s greatest moments.
In interest of full disclosure, gratitude does not come easy to me, especially in these smaller moments, but I’m learning this is where life lives.
Don’t squander joy. OCD has made me pretty fucking good at squandering joy. Whether I’m obsessing about which movie would be the most perfect to go see or that my life is not “fun enough”, I’ve squashed a lot of fucking joy. I am to squandering joy, what Serena Williams is to tennis, and absolute beast. Gratitude is the best antidote to squandering joy. Starting a gratitude journal has been a great way for me to start seeing the good in my day instead of the bad. Since most of it is filled with the so called “ordinary moments” it has allowed me to see that these ordinary moments add up. I realized how I’d overlook so many moments of joy, while I desperately searching for that perfect moment. News flash, perfect moments don’t exist. Don’t get me wrong I still squander my fair share of joy, but I’m getting better.
For example, the other morning it was beautiful out. I went for a run, came home, made some tea, grabbed my paper and sat outside. I did something I probably would not have done in the past. I just sat there and soaked in what a great moment this was. I made a mental list of what I was grateful for. It read as follows; my run, cup of tea, my NY Times, and beautiful sunshine. In the past these moments would have been overlooked. Once thought of as insignificant, I now realize these moments are the ones that make my life, our life great.
This is what I know. Ordinary moments are the ones we will remember on our death bed. Unless we practice gratitude these moments will pass us by and joy will surely be squandered.