My day to day life is pretty ordinary and often consists of fixing food, cleaning up the house, running errands, playing with my kids and other household tasks. At a glance, it doesn’t feel very glamorous and there are days when I can’t wait for my husband to get home from work so I can turn the kids over to him while I escape to the bathroom by myself or go for a short walk around the block. A break from everything I have to manage and be responsible for. Does anyone else hear themselves in my words?
Even though they lack a lot of excitement, most days are good. The laundry, the dishes, the chauffeuring kids back and forth to school and other activities, homework, chores, fixing meals, buying the second pair of shoes in as many months because kids grow so fast.
But if I stop and take a look at the moments in between, what do I see? My kids pretending to be a baby animal, laughter at made up knock-knock jokes, my daughter getting me a yogurt out of the fridge for breakfast before getting her own bowl out for cereal, a hug from my son for no reason other than he just wanted to.
I think there is a difference between the real life that is essential to every day living and the real life that is in the small moments in between. The ones that we just might miss if we’re not looking for them.
I will be the first to admit that I lean more towards being a realist. But I don’t think being a realist excludes me from being optimistic about what’s around me and seeing the good in people and situations. Over the last few months, I’ve implemented two small practices into my daily life that help me recognize the small moments: a joy journal and a phone app.
A little over a month ago, I started a joy journal with the sole purpose being to write down at least three things every day that brought me joy. It might be something to do with my kids, my husband, something I saw that made me laugh, a personal success and so on. One of the benefits of this journal in my life is being able to take a step back and see what’s happening in the in between moments of life. I have started looking for things to write down in my joy journal each night that my kids or husband do or say. I look for the positive aspect of a negative situation and focus on that. I work to create joy in my life, my family’s lives and those I associate with, rather than just expecting it to be there. Overall, I am becoming a happier person.
In February of this year, I saw a post on a friend’s Facebook where she had compiled a short video of one second clips of each day of her life for the previous month. Many of them were similar, some were out of the ordinary, but all of them together brought a smile to my face. Right then, I downloaded the app she used to create her video called 1 Second Everyday. (It’s free! Download from the Google Play Store or iTunes.) Since I have my phone with me most of the time, all I have to do is pull it out and take a video. Then I open the app, select the day and choose which part of the clip I want to represent that day. And at the end of the month, I had a short video of clips from my family’s lives. (If you’re interested, you can watch a TED Talk from the creator of this app on why he created it.)
Having these two things–a joy journal and the 1 Second Everyday app–have become wonderful tools for me because they capture the little moments of joy in every day life and reminds me that my life, ordinary as it may seem, is pretty darn good.
How do you find joy in the small moments of your life? Do you write them down? Take a picture or video? I’d love to hear what benefits you’ve experienced from focusing on joy.