How to have a joy-filled day.

Gratitude is the gateway to joy.

It opens our hearts, softens the rough edges where resentments, disdain, criticism and a host of other challenging emotions convene to create discord in our lives.

Gratitude is healing.

This morning, I conducted a gratitude experiment.

I decided to verbally thank everything in my path as I moved through my morning.

“Thank you bed for holding me softly during the night,” I said as I got up.

“Thank you lamp for casting your light when I turn you on.”

“Thank you toilet for providing a hygienic vessel for my body to use.”

. “Thank you water for flowing into the tap so I can wash my hands.”  “Thank you tap for being there when I need water.”

“Thank you sink for catching the water and returning it to its necessary pipes.”

And the list goes on. From thanking the kettle that heated up my water for tea to the friends who gave us the kettle as a wedding gift almost four years ago, I verbally, out loud, thanked everything that made my morning ‘work’, including the gas that turned on our stove so I could heat up the water for my tea. The laptop upon which I type and the Internet that carries my words into the ethernet and onto other people’s computer screens. And Beaumont who appeared by my side as I typed and nudged my elbow in search of a cuddle..

Needless to say, it took me longer to get to my desk this morning.

Thanking all things in my world out loud takes time.

But, as I went about my home thanking the various things I used to prepare myself for the day, it truly did impress upon me how very lucky I am to live in a world where I have these things to make my world easier. I am grateful.

And, it definitely caused me to laugh out loud.

Laughing out loud filled my heart with joy. Providing, gratitude is the gateway to joy.

May you walk in gratitude. May you have a joy-filled day.

And thank you for being part of my world.


Now is the best time to celebrate the moment.

Throughout my day, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I stop and give a little thanks. My goal is to link one moment to the next, to feel gratitude stirring in all things, calling me to celebrate the preciousness of each moment. And the best way I know to do that is to give thanks. To stop and say a little ‘thank-you’ to the universe as I take in all the good around me.

Moments for thanks appear everywhere, all the time.

Like, in the moment of pushing the button for the elevator and the doors open like magic! Give a little thanks.

Sometimes, the same moment may  not feel or look quite so much like an opportunity to give thanks. But it is.

Imagine, you push the button for the elevator and it takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r for it to arrive. Rather than grow impatient, pressing the button again and again like that will make a difference, stop, take a breath and give a little thanks for that precious moment where you get to stand in the quiet, waiting outside the closed doors and have a chance to breathe.

Some of the moments where I stopped to give a little thanks yesterday included:

  • The five minute wait the electronic news board told me I had before the next train. The morning air was fresh and cool against my skin. Beyond the station, traffic hummed along the roadway. Above, the sky was stretched thin and grey as dawn awakened. I looked around at the people lined up along the platform. I looked up and breathed and gave a little thanks for the precious moment of reprieve to simply get present in my day.
  • Sharing a hilarious moment with a couple of co-workers in the coffee room. We laughed at what one person said that riffed into another until we had exhausted a rather bizarre and silly conversation about why women don’t need ‘balls’. Truly, we don’t.
  • A co-worker giving me an apple — I’d forgotten my lunch and his apple ‘saved me’ from eating what wasn’t good for me. That small act lead to another moment of giving thanks when I couldn’t find my office keys, only to locate them later in the kitchen. In the fridge. That incident caused more laughter and what is better than laughter to lift your spirits?
  • Finding a little box of Valentine’s Smarties at the bottom of my bag. Ok. That was before I ate the apple but it sure was a thrill to find those pink and red Smarties!
  • Pressing SEND on a document I’d been working on for two days. Whew! And getting to laugh with the recipient of the document because it’s now off my desk and onto hers. She said thank you. I’m not quite sure she meant it, (she now has to complete her part of it) but I’m taking her at her word.
  • Taking a break and going outside mid-day to walk around the block. What a gift to be able to just get up from my desk and step outside for a brief interlude. Did I mention this winter has been inordinately warm? Bonus! I only needed a light coat and no gloves or boots!
  • The warm welcome and wishes of the woman at the drugstore when I dropped in to buy a lip balm. Her “I hope you’re having a terrific day,” felt so sincere. She made me smile and remember, I was having a terrific day.

My goal is to fill my day with so many moments of thanks that moments of dullness or emptiness, or simply ‘the blahs’ don’t have time to rise up and fill in the spaces between my being present in gratitude, and not being present in gratitude.

Psychologist, speaker, and author of Buddha’s Brain and many other books on gratitude, happiness and well-being, Rick Hanson, calls it, taking in the good. It’s not about just acknowledging the moment, it’s about taking it in, soaking up the feelings of wellbeing that come with noticing the goodness all around and letting the pure gold of the experience fill you up.

He explains it well in the short video below.

Hope you get a chance to watch it!  And even if you don’t, I hope your day is filled with moments where all that’s on your mind is how grateful you are for what is appearing before you in the moment, right now.

Remember, this moment right now is the only one you’ve got. Why not fill it with thanks?

Rick Hanson

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and New York


In the age of forgetting

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When I was a little girl, Sunday mornings were reserved for church. It was a ritual. We would get all dressed up in our Sunday best, pile into my dad’s car and arrive as one big family of 6 at the church with lots of time to spare. My dad didn’t like being late.

Inevitably, between home and entering the portals of the church, something in my apparel would have come askew. My mother would straighten my skirt. Tuck in my blouse and lick her finger to wipe away some spot of dirt that had managed to find its way to my cheek.

Inside, on the hard wooden pew, my sister and I would sit side by side, our feet not quite touching the floor, swinging our legs and subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, pushing and prodding at each other. My father would grumble about our behaviour and my mother would caution us to Shush.

They didn’t have Sunday School during Catholic mass so we would squirm and wiggle our way through the hour and half mass, kneeling and standing and bowing our heads in tandem with the rest of the congregation, repeating the well worn phrases of the mass, even when the words were in Latin.

Fifty years later, though I seldom attend mass now, I still know when to stand and when to kneel. When to bow my head and when to touch my breast three times with clenched fist and whisper Holy. Holy. Holy.

Cellular memory runs deep.

What is forgotten over the intervening decades is my connection to the holiness of everything. My connection to the greatness of nature. The oneness of life.

We live in an age of lost intimacy with the oneness that runs through life touching us all. Human. Animal. Plant.

We live in an age of acquiring information while forgetting to dig into the roots of our deep and abiding knowledge of life’s divine presence in each of us.

On those Sunday’s when I was a child, there was no question in my mind that God was not present in the church. I saw him in the bowed heads of the congregation. I felt him in the hushed silence, the flickering candles, the incense burning, the light streaming in through a stained glass window.

God. The Divine. Yaweh. Spirit. Whatever word you use to describe the sacred nature of life was there, in each of us as we stood together to listen to the priest, to hear the holy words, to share the wine and bread.  Just as he was there in countless other churches and services and temples and mosques around the globe where humankind gathered together to praise the holy nature of life on earth.

Places of worship bring us together. They remind us of our holy nature, our divine essence. Our Oneness. They connect us to the goodness in each of us, the wonder of our world, the sacredness of our time on earth.

It is outside the walls of worship, beyond the portal doors that I struggle to stay connected, to remember my essence, like your essence, is sacred by nature. That we are all one. All together on this one planet spinning through space held to the earth by the invisible strands of gravity’s grace and the miraculous nature of life.

Take time today to stop and breathe deeply and remember, You are Divine. Just the way you were born. It is your nature. It is all our nature. We are all the divine expression of amazing grace and light. Magnificent and perfect in all our human imperfections.




Have you given thanks today?

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The mind is like a crazy monkey, which leaps about and never stays in one place. It is completely restless and constantly paranoid about its surroundings. From “Trapping the Monkey” in THE TEACUP AND THE SKULLCUP: CHOGYAM TRUNGPA ON ZEN AND TANTRA. Page 72

Lying in bed, ‘doing nothing’, is a great opportunity to reflect, and to ‘do nothing’. At least, it would be a great time for such indulgence if my monkey mind didn’t keep interfering.

“Don’t be so lazy. Get busy.” Its voice whispers with a sibilant hiss oozing like steam seeping from a lumbering volcano.

The more rational part of me leaps in to defend my indolence. “Get busy doing what? I don’t have to go into the office today. It’s an extra long weekend. Relax.”

But still the monkey mind persists. “There’s gotta be something you can do. Quit lying there justifying lying there. Nobody likes a lazy person.”

Ahhh, the power of the monkey mind to disturb peace of mind and tranquility.

Oh, and Beaumont the eager pup too! He wants to get out and play. I will him to relax. Be calm. Be patient.

Buddha is quoted as having said,“Patience is the greatest prayer.”

If I had one prayer, it would be, “Thank you.”

Perhaps gratitude is the most powerful force for healing.

As I lay in my bed I whisper to the birds at the feeder, “Thank you for brightening my day. Thank you for your song. Your lithesome spirit. Your twittering verse.”

I look up through the green leaves turning gold of the birch and the red buds of crabapples peaking out through leaves and gaze up at dull grey sky above and whisper, “Thank you for your shade. Your whispering leaves. Your beauty.”


To fall into prayer I must surrender my ego’s need to justify my existence — my state of doing nothing, as well as my state of doing ‘busy’. To surrender, I must release my need to feel that everything I do matters. As my daughter Alexis wrote in a blog, “I am nothing. And everything… I do not matter. And yet, I am matter, so I must.”

I must surrender my need to matter enough that my matter becomes all that matters to me. When I matter enough to cherish the goodness in my being me, to respond from my highest good, no matter the weather, the time of day or night, or the circumstances surrounding me, then I will have fallen into that place where all that matters is — the moment in which I breathe.

I move into gratitude, the gateway to patience. If I had but one prayer, let it be, Thank you.

The question is: Have you given thanks today?