Over the past year, I have been studying the art of joy.
During my meditations and readings, I was surprised to find that joy, at its core, isn't simply a great amount of happiness. In order to experience true joy, we are called to find contentment and gratitude in those gifts that surround us, no matter how scarce. Joy is the purest form of gratitude.
This past weekend, my husband and I hung lights on the eaves of our house. Though usually I'm one to wait until the Friday after Thanksgiving, we decided that this year, we would bring some cheer to our neighborhood early. We've been through quite the year already, so why not start celebrating. After all, the winter season is filled with festivals that bring light to the darkest times.
As I was sitting on the very top peak of our house stringing lights through plastic clips, I realized how afraid I was to be sitting up this high! I could feel the tension in my knees and toes as I gripped the shingles, and I felt so small as I realized I was the highest object for miles around. All of a sudden, a noisy flock of geese flew overhead in a sloppy V formation, and I looked up from my work. When I did, I noticed the pine trees behind our house that stood a few feet taller than me and, to the west, the mountains in the distance that, after months of hazy smoke and ash, were finally clear. Just for a second, I felt a spark of deep gratitude travel through me. It was a good reminder that instead of looking down at the ground or looking out on a world that seems too big to comprehend, I should be looking up and savoring the pure joy of existence.
I'm setting a table for only two today, but I know that it can hold many more. I hope that this holiday season set in the strangest of times can remind all of us of the joyousness of having family and friends to long for, the heroic act of sacrificing in-person gatherings for digital conversations, and the importance of tradition and remembrance as I make my grandma's stuffing recipe, even if it's just for the two of us.
Amanda Hitpas is the Director of Operations & Innovative Management at Ruminate. Her hobbies include hiking, gardening, writing, and playing piano. She currently lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her husband Nick, their two dogs Tanner and Max.
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