It’s one of those days when everything feels like a slog.
Nothing is really wrong; I’m not struggling with any large illness or emotional catastrophe (thank goodness). It’s just one of those days when the alarm woke me up far too early and I left for work far too late. The traffic was beastly; my teaching job kept me on my feet for hours on end.
At home, I had to skirt teetering laundry baskets in the hall. My son reminded me of the field trip permission slip I still haven’t filled out and turned in. I found out that I’d forgotten to buy a necessary ingredient for the dinner I was making. The essays I’d brought home to grade swallowed up the rest of my evening.
I don’t know why days like this—minor little annoyances, nothing major—can be so taxing. It’s not depression; I know the difference. It’s just the draggy feel of the downward weight of a series of accumulated tasks and burdens. Sometimes it feels like the daily routine can suck the life right out of you.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
This psalm (Psalm 100) is a useful kick in the pants. “Sing joyfully to the Lord.” On days like today, “joy” is the last thing I’m feeling.
But even on a sloggy, draggy day, there are things I can do to alter my mood. I can pause, and think of three things that happened today that were good. They are usually small things: a great talk with a student; a darling toddler I saw holding his mom’s hand walking down the street; the cloudy and dramatic morning sky over the hills on my commute.
I can challenge myself to find joy in the five senses: What is something I saw today that made me happy? (my kids’ faces). Something I tasted? (the coffee my husband made this morning). Something I heard? (birdsong in the trees). You get the idea.
They don’t take long, these little moments of pausing and being mindful and rewriting the script. They don’t always catapult me into what I would call joy, but they do get me a whole lot closer than I was before.
And baby steps are better than none.
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What are the things you do that help you stumble toward joy? Notice them today.
Ginny Kubitz Moyer is a mother, high school English teacher, and BBC period drama junkie. She is the author of Taste and See: Experiencing the Goodness of God with Our Five Senses and Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. Ginny lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two boys, and about thirty thousand Legos. You can find out more about her here.