Why spreading joy is better for the soul

Let’s be honest, the holiday’s aren’t always easy, fun or joyful. This holiday season I’m trying to focus my energy on all the things in my life that are positive. There’s been some family turmoil over the last few months but I don’t want that to change the way I celebrate the holiday, especially now that I have a son. I’m focusing my energy on self-reflection and self-healing after realizing the dangers of neglecting my mental health.

I’m guilty. Guilty of judging too quickly, too harshly and without compassion. Growing up I was raised to respect people, regardless of who they were, but respect didn’t always mean acceptance. I carried this into my adult life but there are still times when I regret how I thought about people growing up. As I’ve gotten older, and maybe a bit wiser, I’ve become aware of the dangers of judging a person.

Years ago, a girl in my high school got pregnant at 16. I remember wondering how she could possibly have let that happen. In my head it had to be someone’s fault that this happened. Though it was likely a shock to this young lady, it wasn’t necessarily a negative. I’m still connected with this woman on facebook and I often see photos of her family – full of happiness, life and love. Life has a funny way of working itself out, especially when people are faced with difficult situations.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering how this is going to turn into a positive. Truth is, it took a very long time for me to be able to forgive my past prejudices against people who live life or do things differently than I do. The funny part of all of this is that I got through most of the craziness is my teens by watching Ellen Degeneres. There’s nothing more amazing than seeing how one person can change the way you think, feel and carry on in your life.

Normally I would say that you can’t become a better person watching television but I think when you see people who spread good, you want to do the same. It wasn’t until I became a parent myself that I realized how insanely difficult it must have been for the girl I knew in high school – not only was she a great student, a mother and caregiver, she also worked crazy hours to support her new family. I’m confident that I’m not the only person who may have judged too quickly and I’m sorry for it.

As a mom, I want my son to have friends, be happy and feel loved. There are days when it’s unbearably hard, but then he smiles or reaches for me and all the stress and worry melts away. I wish that we could all see the world through a child’s eyes – they have so much joy in the simplest things and don’t yet have the ability to judge. I have so much pride when I watch the joy spread across his face for something as simple as finding a long lost Cheerio in his lap.

I’ve struggled at times to find joy in my life but it’s getting easier – or I’m getting stronger. Take the time to smile at someone when you’re walking down the street, buy a stranger a coffee, donate food to a local food bank. It’s the little things that usually bring people the most happiness, it’s the little things that they usually remember. So if you find yourself wondering why someone would do something turn it around and give them a reassuring smile, encouragement or be a friend. It’s not a difficult thing to do but it might bring joy to that person’s life when they’re having a tough day.

This holiday season I’ve made a goal to do at least one thing that brings joy to someone each day – it doesn’t have to be huge but it needs to make people smile. I’ve been so fortunate to have supportive family and friends but I know that not everyone has that. Each year I have a Christmas wish but this year it’g bigger than that – I want to show people who are struggling that they aren’t in this alone.

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