The Big Joy in Small Things

 

I have talked about practicing gratitude before, now I want to discuss a way of doing that. Too often, we wait for the big events to feel joy: Graduations, weddings, promotions, the long-awaited vacation. All of these are great things to enjoy. They are also things that don’t happen every day. In the grind of everyday life, we fail to notice the small things that bring us joy. I have found if I am mindful of the small joys in life, my overall sense of gratitude is much higher.

You may think that you don’t have any small things to bring you joy in a normal day, but I would argue that is because you are not really searching for them. It is easy to become overwhelmed in the day-to-day activities and miss the moments you could have. I want to use an example from my own life this Christmas Eve.

My children are avid computer gamers. We are blessed that they both have their computers set up to play. This year, my daughter wanted a new chair and my son a new desk. Despite the current delivery log jam, both items arrived before Christmas. They arrived in two large boxes and there was no hiding what they were. It’s a family joke to call any such present “a tie”. My son’s solution? Open “the ties” on Christmas Eve because “we don’t want to spend all Christmas putting together ties”. We agreed.

Now, any parent who has put something together on Christmas Eve (or anyone who has assembled any furniture), knows that this can be, and often is, a frustrating process. It never seems to go right. Well, December 24, 2021, in the Stephens household was no exception. However, there was little frustration to be seen. Even as things did not go as planned, the whole family felt a strong connection as we did these tasks together. My daughter and I took the chair, as my son and wife are the more mechanically inclined. We had our own difficulties but enjoyed our father and daughter time. In the other room, despite some deconstruction, mother and son were also enjoying themselves. It took a couple of hours, but both items were completed with enough time for mom and dad to watch Trading Places, our Christmas Eve tradition. Everyone in the family commented on how nice this experience was.

Yes, it could have gone the other way. Instead of enjoying each other’s company and holding on to the feeling of fellowship, any of us could have focused on the petty frustrations of the mechanics of the process. But, instead, we were blessed to share these moments. It was a small thing that turned out to be one of the best Christmas gifts imaginable.

It’s a funny thing about joy: even when it is small, it is huge.

Bryan is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and National Certified Counselor (NCC). He has been licensed since June 2000. He is also involved in training new therapists as a Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor (CPCS) since 2011. He earned his Bachelor of Science in 1992 from Florida Tech, and his Master of Arts in Psychology from the Georgia School of Professional Psychology in 1996. Bryan started as a case manager before becoming a therapist, working in community behavioral health, where he practiced as part of a multidisciplinary team consisting of other therapists, case managers, nurses, and doctors. It was in this environment where he learned to treat the large variety of issues brought to the clinic by a diverse population. Bryan currently has a private practice in Marietta Georgia, seeing adults.

Originally Posted at TalkForward

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  1. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    Well done, @bryangstephens – very enjoyable read! I recommend this for promotion to the Main Feed strongly.

    • #1
  2. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Bryan, despite our differences, I really like you.  You are such an authentic loving person.  You are such a spirited advocate for your point of view.  You have a huge heart.  When you send a negative comment to one of my posts, I know that it comes from the heart, and not out of malice.  Thank you for a great post.

    One other thing.  I served on one of the Credentialing Committees of the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners.  Having an “LPC” for “Licensed Professional Counselor” is pretty well the gold standard in that world.  You should be proud of yourself.

    This excellent post needs to go on to the Main Feed.

    • #2
  3. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    I’ll watch animal/pet videos on Ace of Spades in the evenings and forward to wife and kids. It’s non-political (the women in my life!) and brings smiles all around.

    Nature videos, babies and kids being kids are great too. 

    We’re living in a Garden of Eden. It’s too easy to forget that.

    • #3
  4. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Thanks for the kind comments. 

    It is easy to get caught up in momentary anger and not remember what joys we do have. 

    • #4
  5. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Absolutely Bryan.  The older I get the more joy I find in the little things.  Even a little thing of going to the store with my 12 year old son is such a joy.  Just this afternoon I forced him to come to the store with me.  He’s a gamer too and I pulled him away from the screen.  He was upset but I insisted he come with me.  I hate those games and I do what I can to get him away from it.  Here he was, in the car, angry, recalcitrant, and unresponsive to my conversation, and yet I found total joy in being with him doing the most mundane thing…lol.  Ah life.

    • #5
  6. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Manny (View Comment):

    Absolutely Bryan. The older I get the more joy I find in the little things. Even a little thing of going to the store with my 12 year old son is such a joy. Just this afternoon I forced him to come to the store with me. He’s a gamer too and I pulled him away from the screen. He was upset but I insisted he come with me. I hate those games and I do what I can to get him away from it. Here he was, in the car, angry, recalcitrant, and unresponsive to my conversation, and yet I found total joy in being with him doing the most mundane thing…lol. Ah life.

     Our kids friends were fascinated that they have parents that like computer games and role play games as well.

    • #6