I willingly admit that I don’t focus on the joy every moment. Or even every day. I know I should look for the joy in the meltdowns over a missing Lego piece, the turkey bacon being too cold, or my own cup of coffee spilling down the front of my blouse. Truly, there has to be joy in our day-to-day moments, right?
And when these not-so-joyful moments occur, I often start a story in my mind. It usually sounds like, “my life is so hard and there are no breaks and how will things ever change?” My negative story can even grow and change into a bigger beast by hyper-focusing on just one small aspect of my day. When I tell myself that “no one hears my voice in meetings,” then that reality often starts grow in my life.
Your negative story may be different from mine, but we all have these inside voices that repeatedly tell us stories. Maybe your negative story is about using the wrong words in a situation or coming across as too brash or too clumsy.
I will also admit that it is very difficult for me to shift my negative story into a joyful one. However, I do try. I try to ask myself, What if there were something to be joyful about? Is there any joy here in this story?
Let’s look a bit deeper into my negative story: Why can’t my life be easier? Why do I have to be so responsible for everything – the bills, the groceries, the love, the discipline, and plunging the clogged toilet? I’m so tired. I feel like all I do is give and give – and then I collapse at night. Is that what my life is destined to be?
It’s not a very inspiring and motivating story, right? And really, who wants to hear such a story?
Now let’s go deeper and dig out some of the joy. Again, I will note, this is not easy work for me either. However, the more I try, the better at it I become. My joy-filled story: My life is overflowing with opportunities and love. My kids are never bored because they are involved in so many activities – and I know this adds richness and texture to their stories. I know they are happy because of their constant giggling. And, I am a jack of all trades! Who can really say THAT about themselves? I mean honestly: Mom, Assistant Principal, Kid Chauffeur, Toilet Un-clogger, Battery Replacer, Expert Lego Finder and Knower of All (according to my kids) Bam! And, the beginning of a new day is my reminder that life is my constant teacher – and that it is better to be tired and filled with love than to have nothing at all.
Truly, this is the same story, how told with a different tone. The lenses that I’m looking through is joy-filled. Some may call this looking through rose-colored glasses. Yes, this may be true. However, there is great power in putting energy into what you want to out of life.
I share this with you because being a parent of a child on the spectrum can be difficult and challenging and exhausting and … (phew – don’t fall into the negative trap). However, I continue to redefine my story by looking at my son’s growth with social interactions, his deep love for animals, his brilliant mind that never stops, and his affection towards me. I watch how my youngest child responds with love in almost everything her brother does or says. Together my children teach me and show me joy. Sometime the joy is tucked under a thick layer of lashing out or crying. Other times, the joy is found after an hour-long cry session over a missing piece of homework. Whatever it is, there is always a way to shift your perspective – and potentially change the way you view the world.
So, go ahead, give it a try. The next time your negative story steps up to the microphone, ask yourself: What if there were something to be joyful about? Is there any joy here in this story?