Joy in The Little Things

My mood ranked near an all-time low when my wife and I drove to see our middle son’s family for a Sunday visit.

“I don’t think I can do this today,” I told her as I pulled up in front of their house.

Karen offered me words of encouragement to go in, but I started the car and pulled away from the curb. I felt so sad, a sadness I could not understand. She continued her soft tones, her words of encouragement, and as she spoke, I felt there was more to her words. I could tell from her tone she needed to see the granddaughters for her own health and wellness.

I drove around the block and parked in front of the house, again.

I’m glad I did.

My sullenness changed the moment I set my eyes on the 16-month old granddaughter in blue jeans and suspenders. She flashed me a smile every time she looked at me while eating a cupful of blueberries one at a time. She didn’t say anything except “more” meaning more blueberries. I felt joy in that moment like never before.

Now I’m not the doting grandfather this makes me out to be, but in that moment seeing that toddler just did something to change my sour disposition.

Karen noticed my mood change, too, and she was thankful it stayed our entire visit and even after we left.

What is it about observing a person, place, thing or situation that automatically changes a person from one mood to the next? What triggers it? For me, I’m a sucker for a genuine smile. I love creative clothing — kudos to my son for his choice in dressing her in suspenders, but there was more to it that I couldn’t put my finger on and maybe I never will.

Even the next day I smiled at the thought of that granddaughter, and I realized I needed to remember more moments that bring joy to my heart, catch them and hold them dear like a precious stone.

I looked back at other days and if I thought about it, I could find specific people, places, things or events that brought joy to me. It didn’t have to be a big event or one that costs lots of money.

No, more often it was something little or simple that sparked joy in my day.

For Christmas a daughter-in-law gave me a memory book titled One Line a Day: a five-year memory book. I wrote a memory each day starting January 1. I started writing about people, places and events that happened that day, like I was writing a news article, but this didn’t bring me joy.

I changed my one line a day memory book after spending time with my granddaughter. I now find at least one thing in my day that gave me joy.

My one-sentence memories could be as simple as a smile from a crossing guard, a tree bursting with golden leaves, or a three-inch thick sandwich. I know a sandwich is a stretch but it brought me Joy.

It doesn’t matter what or who it is that sparks my joy or how large or small the event, I will write the memory of the joy in my memory book and just maybe on my really blue days I can look back through the book and ignite the joy once again. I know the memory of our granddaughter in blue jeans and suspenders will always bring a smile to my face.

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