I have found that two streams can run through one’s life simultaneously — one, a deep current of sadness, the other a bubbling spring of joy. But I admit that I have often found myself overwhelmed by the stream of heartache and have taken for granted the glimpses of joy that can be found on an otherwise dreary day.
Following two tragic events — the deaths of my beloved mother and father — I have learned five ways to rediscover joy. And that discovery has made my life a little more peaceful, more hopeful, and more manageable.
Good things abound in our world — the sweetness of a triple layer chocolate cake — the comfort of friends — the mesmerizing beauty of the sun on a cold winter’s day. But sometimes these blessings seem to disappear from our sight, as we focus primarily on our problems. By fine-tuning our vision, we can have a greater appreciation for the sunny side of life.
Studies have shown that experiencing gratitude can lift our spirits. Long ago, a friend recommended that, at the end of each day, I list five things for which I am grateful. If I reflect hard enough, I find that my list encompasses more than five things. A wise priest, after I had made my Confession, gave me an unusual penance: I was to sit in the church and contemplate all those things for which I was thankful. My reflection lasted a full half-hour, and I felt much closer to Jesus as a result.
Just thinking up a secret act of kindness to perform can be fun! One of my friends routinely pays for the order of the person behind her in the drive-thru line at a local restaurant. I myself have been the recipient of her random generosity and, as a result, we were both richly blessed.
Just a quick Facebook message or a call can open up a rewarding conversation. At times, I have found that just hearing a friend’s voice can provide a profound moment of joy. A friend can often offer a life raft when one feels as if one is drowning in the sorrows of life.
Music is the soundtrack of our lives. I have found that if I am in the car and I crank up my favorite tunes, I receive an instant lift. Whether your jam is Maroon 5 or Mozart, a musical interlude may be just what you need to rediscover joy. As one entertainer has remarked, music is medicine.
Most important of all, remember to follow the words of St. Teresa of Calcutta, and never let today’s troubles overshadow the joy of the Resurrection. For it is in Christ that we will find our everlasting joy!
Maria Gallagher serves as Legislative and Political Action Committee Director for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, the state affiliate of National Right to Life. Prior to her work with the Federation, Maria worked as a legislative associate with Ohio Right to Life. Before joining the pro-life cause, Maria worked as a reporter and news producer. Her journalistic work has received awards from the Ohio Associated Press, the Press Club of Cleveland, and the Society of Professional Journalists. Maria earned her Bachelor’s degree in journalism at Ohio State University and her Master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University. She is the author of an eBook, A Pro-Life Guide to the Media, and has served as a freelance writer for numerous websites and publications, including CatholicMom.com, LifeNews.com and Our Sunday Visitor.