Chasing Happiness Steals Joy

You need to take time to be thankful

Posted Jun 04, 2017

It is ironic that we can get so busy chasing happiness that we fail to notice the things that could be bringing joy to us in the present.

I was thinking about that this morning, as I woke to a day where my coffee tasted just right, my stomach was full, and my son had, despite adversity, graduated from high school.

I decided to write a short blog post on thankfulness, a followup to the one from last week on teaching children to say 'thanks'. Then, I was going to write a thank you note to my son's principal, William Baylis (thank you!), who has helped create a school environment that makes success possible, even when the odds are against you.

Then Life Happened

First thing I did was open my computer. I logged into the Psych Today bloggers site. Or tried to. My password wasn't saved - an annoyance that has plagued me for weeks, since one of the innumerable software updates to save us from attack corrupted my browser files.

I could have just typed in my password or changed it (AGAIN), but hey, I'm an efficient person. I figured it was better to get at the root cause and try to correct the issue that was making my passwords come and go.  

A twenty minute search later, I knew what was wrong.Then wandered into the la-la-land of Google security features. Then synced all my devices. By which time, Facebook was looking like a nice distraction. It had been an hour since I first sipped my coffee.

Aside: Google has a feature where you can designate one or more people to access and control your accounts if you become inactive. In other words, if you die. In the process of setting that up, you need to write a letter to the person or people you have designated that they will receive several months after your death. This is a fantastic service - I recommend everyone set it up. But it was not a task I had planned to take on this morning.  

Facebook checked, enriched by great short videos on traditional banjo styles, I finally log into Psych Today.  And get a notice from Apple and Google saying there was a log in from a new location (the computer I've owned for the last two years) and I needed to verify it by typing in the code they just sent to my phone.

Where is my phone anyway?  Thank goodness I had found it in my garden last night after midnight because I couldn't find it when I looked for it then.  A fast 'ding' from Find iPhone and I'm sitting down again to write.

About what? Oh yes, gratitude and mindfulness.

Bottom Line

Which gets me to my bottom line: You have to work at holding the moment and savoring gratitude and joy.

Distractions steal the moment.  Distractions, in some way, ARE the moment.  They take you away from your current state and drag you to the present. They move our attention.  

We have evolved to attend to change. Our phones, advertising, all of those things snatch our attention from what we were doing and feeling. But they also take us away from the moment we were in. I was literally smelling the coffee and enjoying the silence when I distracted myself by deciding to reflect on it. Then I went down a rabbit hole of technology to make those reflections. l should have picked up my pen and just written that letter. Instead, I decide to write about writing that letter. Then checked Facebook and fixed a computer problem - which caused other distractions - instead of doing it. My bad. I am getting back to that feeling I had an hour ago, but only slowly.

So now I'm going to pick up a pen and write that note before I give my attention to something else.


Heart Mind Online Resources: Fostering Gratitude in Children: Educational resources and a curriculum for teaching mindfulness and gratitude to children from the Dalai Lama