As part of reflecting on the year that was 2017, I decided that in 2018, I would create and adopt a mantra for each month, then reflect on its effectiveness at the end of each month. I thought I would share with you how that has worked in the first month of 2018.
Find the joy in every day and situation, no matter the circumstances.
I set this as my mantra as I knew there would be challenges travelling overseas to the USA in January with a very painful shoulder injury following a car accident. There would be luggage to move around with only one “working” arm and shoulder, freezing weather and a busy schedule. It would require patience and perseverance on my part, given that patience is not one of my virtues, however fortunately perseverance is one of my key strengths. I wanted this trip to be special and memorable, as it was a mother/daughter trip and a birthday gift to my daughter. We knew this would possibly not occur again any time soon. I wanted to create memories of a lifetime for both of us.
The first challenge as soon as we arrived in the USA was that part of our luggage was lost, or rather was still in Australia, but it took three hours to determine that, and then another 40 hours to deliver it. Where was the joy in that? First, I got to sleep in after a long flight, and second I got to explore the local area for a day, with beautiful homes, gardens and lovely cafes, waiting for the luggage to be delivered as opposed to visiting packed tourist spots in Los Angeles. It is rare that we get to at least see how others live in other countries. I found joy and beauty in walking around and observing my unfamiliar environment.
In New York we found that art exhibitions we had hoped to see were closed for renovations, so we visited the Museum of Natural History for the first time; the joy was recognizing so many scenes from movies my children and I had enjoyed over the years. We were like two excited school kids on an excursion. We got to have a new experience together while enjoying memories of happy times in the past. So too at work and at home, we need to stop on a regular basis and reflect on the moment, be present, enjoy the memories of the past and create new ones for ourselves, our team members and our loved ones.
On Saturday in New York we found that all the roads around our hotel and the places we wanted to visit were going to be hard to access due to the Women’s March. What a joy to be part of the memorable walk – they expected 400,000 people and over one million people marched for women’s rights – not just women and girls, but men and boys who love the women in their lives! We met fascinating people from across the USA and the globe, and were part of an important moment in history.
I have realized at a very practical level that there is joy in every day, but we have to be aware, fully present and willing to quietly reflect on the joy – recognize it, be grateful and share. I know from my involvement in R U OK and research, that being grateful, and by deduction, finding joy in every day is critical to our mental well-being and resilience. We must however, practice the art of slowing down long enough to ask ourselves regularly: “Where or what is the joy in this moment?” There is joy in completing tasks at work, achieving goals, exercising, well-being, teamwork, collaboration, inclusion, the list is endless, so find the joy.
You will be surprised, you will be grateful, you will be joyous and feel better for it. Try it for a day, then a week, then a month! I’m making my monthly mantras cumulative, so I’m taking “finding joy” into the rest of the year with me. Choose to find the joy every day.
“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”