Draining the Last Drop of Joy

Nearly every day I talk with men and women who are suffering from worry, discouragement and despair. Their emotional pain can be triggered by many different sources, but one thing they often share in common is the absence of genuine joy in their lives.

This mindset is increasingly fueled by the flood of negative news and opinion stories and programs offered by media outlets. If you believe everything you hear, you may feel like giving up! But your circumstances and the news don’t have to diminish the gratitude and joy that comes from appreciating the good things in life.

Whether you are struggling with fears about the Covid-19 pandemic, political frustrations, financial problems, relationship conflict, career uncertainty or physical illness you don’t have to live in a state of gloom.

Life will always include circumstances we don’t like, so in order to help my clients manage emotional pain I encourage them to consciously make the effort to drain the joy from their everyday life experiences.

It’s sad to think of wasted joy - happiness left in the bottom of the cup at the end of the day. You can learn how to squeeze the last drop out of life even when your circumstances seem negative; and when you do you will strengthen your defenses against chronic discouragement and despair.

Picture yourself tracing your straw all around the bottom of your glass to get the last sweet taste of milkshake. That’s how you drain the last drop of joy from life.

For starters, as you go through your day, pause occasionally to focus on your breathing. Breathe in deeply through your nose for four seconds, hold it in for seven seconds and then slowly exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. Doing this exercise several times will not only help you relax but will also call your attention to being fully present and attentive in the moment.

Here are some examples of everyday events and how you can intentionally drain the joy into your life.

        Life’s Moment                                      Draining the Joy Reflection

Waking up in the morning           “I have another day full of opportunities for joy.”
Driving to work                              “I can listen to a book, podcast or my favorite music.”
A finished task or project             “It’s satisfying to be creative and productive.”
A kiss from your spouse               “I’m thankful for his/her companionship.”
A meeting at work                         “Collaboration helps us solve problems.”
Feeding your pet                           “What a small price for unconditional love!”
Watering the plants                      “It’s rewarding to care for living things.”
Grocery shopping                          “I’m thankful that I have lots to choose from.”
Helping kids with homework      “It’s a privilege to instruct my children.”
Talking to a friend                          “Someone knows me and likes me anyway!”
Listening to music                         “It’s a mini-vacation; relaxing and energizing.”
Watching your child sleep           “I feel the love; I also enjoy the break.”
Paying the bills                               “I’m grateful to have the things I’m paying for.”
Sitting in traffic                              “This is a great opportunity to think.”
Caring for an ill parent                  “Great way to thank him/her for raising me.”
Fixing a flat tire                              “At least I have a car – some people don’t.”

If you want to make the most of this exercise, keep a daily log of situations that could have been discouraging and how you turned them into opportunities to be happy, thankful, relieved, encouraged and positive. If you pay attention, joy is all around you. To borrow a famous slogan, it’s good to the last drop!

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

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