Joy’s Main Ingredient
Have you ever given yourself a gift? It’s possible (although it’s kind of hard to surprise yourself with it). One of the best gifts you can receive is one that only you can give. It isn’t a heart-shaped box of candy, but it’s a sweet gift all the same.
When I was growing up, there was a was a dear friend of my mother’s whom I always thought of as an aunt. Her name was Mary Elnora, but everyone called her “Norny” and she was one of a kind. Flashy and fun, Norny drove a white ’62 Chevy convertible–a fun car for a fun person. She had a great laugh and she used it often, mostly at herself. When she made a blunder, she didn’t get embarrassed , she got tickled. We loved her and we always loved to see her come to stay because we knew there would be plenty of laughter.
Norny wasn’t much of a cook, but once she made fudge and it smelled and looked delicious, but when she finally served it, it was bitter and everyone who tasted it made a face like they’d just taken a dose of cod liver oil. Finally, someone spoke up and said, “Are you sure you made that right?” Norny went down the list of ingredients and then slapped her hand over her mouth and began to laugh. “I left out the sugar!” she giggled, and we all began to laugh, too. Fudge without sugar isn’t fudge, we found out. Without the sweetener, it’s awful because sugar is a main ingredient.
When we talk about joy in our lives at work and at home, there is also a main ingredient without which joy is impossible. That ingredient is gratitude.
Think about this, when have you ever felt both bitter and grateful? I’ll wager you can’t think of a single instance because gratitude is an opposing force to anger and despair.
One of the most effective ways we have to improve our outlook on our own lives is to witness realities that are more difficult than our own. That may be why people who do volunteer work for the homeless or mission work in third world countries report higher levels of happiness.
For one thing, they create purpose through service, but for another they come back with a new appreciation for their own lives.
Counting your blessings is not just good for falling asleep, it’s a main ingredient to living and working with genuine joy.