In thinking about the holiday season and the associated celebrations from November to January, one thing that stands out as a common theme is the opportunity to reflect and start anew. To see this concept across religions, peoples, and time really demonstrates the significance of creating space for ourselves to do both of these things. How powerful these two concepts can be when we think about how fast the world moves and how quickly life changes.
However, I am challenging myself to think slightly different about this time of the year. Instead of seeing it as an end and beginning, I want to view it as an on-going. As a way to feel the strength from the wisdom gained and set my sights forward on making use of that wisdom and strength to continue my process of becoming.
On that note, here is the wisdom that joy has brought me over the last year. As I think back, I am amazed yet again that I picked the perfect one word to serve as a guiding light.
You can read more about my rationale for selecting the word joy here. I wanted to create well-being for myself and others, be more present in the moment, seek out the good, and take care of myself and those I cherish most through mental and physical activity.
So, how did I do?
Well, overall, I am feeling pretty good about nurturing joy in my life this past year. Despite facing some very difficult moments, I am ending this year filled with joy. In seeking out the good and positive, I was able to let go of emotions or things that would drag me down. I started running, completing two 5K races! I also started monitoring my overall physical health using my Jawbone UP to track my sleep and activity each day. I tried to worry less and decrease anxiety by living in the present moment. I didn’t compare myself to others, but focused on a becoming a better “me.” This allowed me to appreciate the little things that bring me joy: coffee in the morning, purring cats, hugs from my husband, laughter, friendship, flowers in my yard, little ones giggling, runs on the trail, sunshine, meaningful work. My heart is happier, my outlook is brighter.
Did I have set backs? Oh my goodness, YES. There were so many times that seemed uncertain and I questioned my strength and ability to make it through. But the joy in the setbacks was that I had amazing friends and family to lean on. It was hard to reach out, to accept help, to be vulnerable, to let others down, and to accept that I might fail. But the beauty is that no one turned me away. No one criticized or made me feel lesser. They loved me with grace and I am forever grateful for these gifts. They helped me see and feel joy, where in the past I would have filled that space with despair.
The biggest lesson that a focus on joy taught me is that the journey is most beautiful when looked at though the lens of joy. I have renewed strength and wisdom through joy that will sustain me on this on-going journey.