Joy and Gratitude

photo by Greg Rakozy
photo by Greg Rakozy

I am not really a New Year’s resolution guy. Mostly because past attempts – of which I have a long record – involve weight and that has proved a dis-spiriting battle.

I prefer to think of goals and the setting of milestones: I will achieve this; we will visit there; I will practice this; I will exhibit more … (I have a shopping list of things I could be better at!).

This year I am working with three questions I modified from Brendon Burchard (

  1. Which three words would describe the best of who I might be in 2016?
  2. Which three words will guide my engagement with others?
  3. Which three words will define success for me during 2016?

I won’t give the whole list here but two words on my list are joy and beauty. In 2016 I want to live with a greater sense of joy and an increased appreciation of beauty.

My strategy is to be more intentional about being appreciative and grateful.

The thought is that being more disciplined about the practice of gratitude will save me from succumbing to self-preoccupation. The expression of gratitude involves the decision to notice something beyond my own shortcomings, fantasies or angst. So, every night, I will use the time honoured discipline of answering the question: What are the three things for which I am most grateful today?

Appreciation nudges me back from absorption in the challenge of my moment and prompts me to put my experience of reality into a slightly larger frame. Someone else is involved; something not of my creation or initiative has positively impacted me or those around me. It is not all about me no matter the prickliness of the current challenge (or how much of a Baby Boomer I might be).

Nothing ground breaking here and I realize it can sound Pollyannish – don’t focus on the scratch, be thankful you have a car! – but such practices endure for a reason. They carry truth.

In both practices I’m aiming for more specificity.

“Today I am particularly grateful for feel of this pen in my hand, the sound of a well-tuned engine, the way my granddaughter greeted me with a smile and hands outstretched to be lifted up.”

“Thank you for the question you raised about the environmental impact of the action we were considering” – much better than “Good meeting, thanks!”

Gratitude and appreciation – two old/new practices I am going to claim for a joyful life, full of beauty and deep, nurturing relationships.

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