How do you find joy in the dark?

Earlier this week, I spoke with a grief coach, for an episode of my upcoming podcast (more on that later). It was an amazing conversation  as we discussed not just the journey of grief, but also options for people on the outside who want to do what is best for their friend or family member that is hurting.

One thing that came up is the idea that where we place our focus/energy is where we experience the most.

This concept is so simple in its clarity, but somehow really hard to incorporate into our lives.

 We may dwell in the dark and negative and then question why our lives always feel so dark and negative.

Now, I’m not suggesting that someone who has just experienced loss “look on the bright side”. I promise I understand there is a time for dark and sad and that time should be as long as one needs in grief.

What I am saying is that our brains are going to find what we tell them to find. They are designed to answer the questions we present them. So, if we’re always looking for ways our lives are bad, we’re going to find the evidence of why pretty easily. On the flip side, if we turn our gaze toward joy, we’re going to find  the ways our lives bring us joy, sometimes even in the saddest of moments.

What about when the sun doesn’t shine?

Last week I spent a few days in sunny Miami, Florida. I was working every minute of every day but I never once felt tired or burned out or overwhelmed even when I was doing exactly what I would have been doing at my desk in New Jersey.

You know why? Because I was focused on the sun pouring in my window and the joy of eating lunch outside. The work didn’t feel like drudgery when I focused on how lucky I was to be doing it in this location.

So, what’s a girl to do when she’s back in grey and gloomy New Jersey? Well, first, I gave myself a day to wallow. For real, I returned from Florida and spent all day Saturday in my pajamas on the couch until it was time to go out with family for dinner and a show.

Then, and only then, did I turn my gaze toward joy. I focused on the taste of the meal. I focused on the good company. I even was able to notice the joy that comes from being able to see live theater, even if it isn’t the world’s greatest show. (Spoiler, it was not.)

I’ll be honest, the days back home have not been nearly as light and airy as my days in that Miami hotel room. But they have also not been as dark as the days preceding my trip were, because I have decided to shift my focus toward whatever light I can find even if it’s not right outside my window. I can’t change my environment, but I can change what I see.

We can’t control all the things that happen to us in our lives, but we can control our reactions by choosing what to look for, and that can make all the difference.

So, where is your focus going to be today? How will you change what you see?

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