Moments of joy and joy in moments

Zen garden outside the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum.

This week I’ve had a big treat: my 19-year-old niece Gracie is visiting me. This is also the first time she’s visited me on her own; usually the whole family (sister, niece and two nephews) come together. We have a regular slate of favorite activities: dim sum lunch, Halibut Point State Park, Mount Auburn Cemetery (the bird watching there is great), Walden Pond. Often, we visit a museum or two: the Peabody Essex in Salem is one of their favorites. I love it when they visit– the feeling of being ensconced in family, the silliness and chaos of moving from place to place in a five-person group, the enjoyment of showing them familiar places and exploring new ones together.

This time, it’s been just Gracie and me. We’ve slowed down a bit and experienced our fun in different ways. Gracie helped me with dog sitting, and we cooked together. We went to Walden and to the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. We also did some meditation.

One morning, we did a Ten Percent Happier app meditation with my favorite teacher Jeff Warren. This one is called Practicing Joy. He guided us through an exercise of thinking about moments when we noticed someone else seeming happy or joyful. It could be very simple, like kids playing and laughing. Or noticing someone reading a book in a park and smiling.

At the end of the meditation, I was left with the feeling that the world was full of joyful moments. It certainly doesn’t seem that way when we look at the big picture, but there is respite to be found by focusing in on small bits of life experience. Here are some moments of joy from this week with Gracie:

She leaves today. I’ll miss her. And, I’ll try to remember and look for my own moments of joy, in walking, cycling, doing dishes, yoga, swimming, playing.

Readers, do you remember a moment of joy from this week? They’re not profound, just a momentary influx of good feeling from something in your world. If you have one to share, please do. If you don’t remember one, do some noticing this week. I think you’ll see them.

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