Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Choosing Joy

Please excuse me while I go all Hallmark/New Age on you this morning, but it can't be helped.  I have a lot of things going on in my life right now that are causing me panic, anxiety, and one hell of a case of recurring insomnia (in case you hadn't noticed from my occasional 3am post).  I also have a lot of things that are over-the-top stellar: a healthy son, a top-shelf husband, beyond supportive family and family-in-law, a cute apartment and a damn good local coffee joint.  So why, around midnight each night or in the evening hours when I'm tired and lagging, can I only seem to see the anxiety-provoking things in front of my eyes, while the blessings fade to a blur beyond my exhaustion and worry?

Here's what I am starting to think: happiness is elective.  Joy is a choice.  Here's the little zen koan that presented itself to me at the end of this morning's run: at every turn there are flowers and there is poop, literally.  The sidewalk between here and Jamaica Pond is both a minefield of dog doo and city litter, and the home to some of the most beautifully kept gardens in the 'hood.  Which do I choose to see?  At the coffee shop on the way home, the man who cut the line and touched every piece of banana bread before choosing one to buy (EWW!) was the same man who held the door for me and told me my son was beautiful on the way out.  Which act do I choose to focus on?  I stood at the corner waiting to cross with drivers NOT yielding to pedestrians, sipping the glorious, unparalleled nectar that is City Feed Iced Coffee, and examined the gorgeous purple flowers in front of the local wine shop, with cigarette butts all around them at their base.  What was I going to focus on?

Joy is a choice and it is a choice that occurs at every stop light, every meal, every moment of your day, big and small.  There has to be a way to give the unsettling things in life their due deference, to feel and process the negative, without letting it drag you into an abyss of anxiety.  This is the riddle I am working on right now, and I am starting to think the answer comes less in an ability to completely overhaul my psyche, and more in a series of small daily decisions that present themselves when you least expect them.

I have a lot to laugh about in my life right now...
it is time to give the joy more power than the fear.


  1. I could not agree more; joy IS a choice. I have to remind myself of this frequently, so much so that I often wish I could just err on the side of joy naturally, instead of constantly fighting my own worries, anxieties, etc etc. But I also believe that knowledge is half the battle. You choose to make yourself happy, or you choose to be miserable. When you simplify it like that, then it really shouldn't be a choice after all.

    Love the examples in your post! And especially love LM's pic!!!! Ahhhh, so much cuteness. Joy fix: check! :-)

  2. Great minds really do think a like! I too have been attempting this change in my daily thinking and actions. I find that so many people are unhappy these days (and they definitely have their reasons!). But I cannot help but think about all the positive, wonderful things I do have in my life. I am trying to keep things in perspective...I have a lot to be thankful for.

  3. This post made me cry. In a good way. xoxo