Finding Joy in the Present by Suzanne N. Stangland MA, LPC
As Christmas time approaches, so do all the feelings that come with it. It is commonplace to be both excited and overwhelmed with the holiday. Families love to plan for that big get-together, parents look for the best gift, and children anticipate Christmas morning, possibly more than their own birthday celebrations.
This suggests that we spend quite a bit of time during the holidays looking forward to the next party to attend or thinking about which presents to buy.
What would it be like if we work toward making this Christmas a time that we find that joy in the time at hand—the present?
During your daily routine, what are the things, people or circumstances that warm your heart in ways it is difficult to articulate? Is it the children running to the door to greet you or the little note your spouse sent you reminding you they love you or is it the dog wagging his tail profusely the second you grab the leash for a walk? These are the small and yet significant things that make up the present. And they are the things that, unfortunately, many people forget to enjoy, ‘in the moment‘, but will grieve terribly if they become unavailable. It is a somber thought to consider that many people have not learned to be content, and therefore have missed the potential joy.
Being content is about learning to love everything a given moment has to offer. It allows someone to exist in the moment and experience what it is like to not want for something else whether or not one has the means to obtain something else.
A contented spirit does not yearn for the things, experiences or lives others have, but rather experiences complete joy in their life that is in a way that does not show up and leave the second the wrapping paper has been put into the trash. Living in your present prevents you from missing it, and allows for a joyful experience of the things yet to come without forgetting to find the joy along the way.
Getting excited about the future is great and encouraged. But, just striving to prevent the distress of pending situations robs you of your joy! Plan for your parties and events and enjoy them, but make sure you do so with the calm and joyful resolve that comes from appreciating each gracious gift present in the life you have in the day-to-day!
Suzanne N. Stangland MA, LPC
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