My ability to distinguish between one positive emotion and another is fading as I age. Or maybe I just don’t care anymore. For the last few years I’ve been purposely paying attention to the positives, inviting them into my life by keeping kind promises to myself.
Karl Barth says “joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” I’m finding the positives tangle with each other—one causes another causes the next until I don’t know what is which and which is what. I admire a beautiful color and fall in love with it. I feel this beauty-love as a warm glow in my chest. Noticing the glow, the corners of my mouth turn up. The glow bubbles into joy, for which I’m thankful. My shoulders drop as I relax into gratitude. I am amazed that this wash of positive sensations can be caused by one scrap of color.
This is not to say that life doesn’t suck sometimes. It certainly does! Words like “incurable” and phrases like “case manager” are in my daily conversations. I know and dwell in brackish suckiness.
And yet, the smallest gestures pull me out of the muck. The sun shines through the branches and makes crisscross patterns on the sidewalk. I hear my daughter laugh. There are warm towels coming out of the dryer and ginger cookies coming out of the oven.
All I have to do is notice and deliciousness becomes beauty becomes love becomes joy becomes gratitude.
Kate Wolfe-Jenson explores kind promises and irritating monsters at JourneyDancing.com. She is s-l-o-w-l-y illustrating an e-book, Practicing Life as a Creative Experiment.