Joy: It’s the Little Things

By Stacie Prada

It’s a season of wishing glad tidings of comfort and joy. I’ve never really thought about what that means, so I looked it up. Tidings means delivering news or making an announcement. I don’t think I’ve ever used the phrase, but I probably used it wrong if I did. I thought it was wishing someone else comfort and joy, but technically it means to deliver good news. It’s sharing our own good news, because we think they’ll be glad to hear it.

I think celebrating and sharing our joyful moments brightens the day for many. I experience joy when I read or learn about someone else’s joy. I’m happy something made them happy. I get ideas for things that could improve my life that I might not have thought of on my own. It’s heartening and motivating.

I’ve seen dear friends and family relieved when they hear from me and I say I’m doing well. I know they worry about me and are relieved and comforted when they hear from me. I’m glad to connect with them and know how they’re doing too. I think it’s common for any relationship, but I think it’s more pronounced when a person has a chronic illness like multiple sclerosis. I’ve definitely noticed their concern more since I’ve been diagnosed.

In the spirit of sharing glad tidings, I’ll share three little things that brought me joy this week:

I found a tiny yellow and black feather while on a walk with a friend on a waterfront trail. I stopped to pick it up and took it home. I researched the feather on an online feather atlas to find what kind of bird it might have belonged to, and then I learned more about the bird on the Audubon site. I deduced it’s from a Northern Flicker, more commonly called a woodpecker. The whole experience delighted me.

My cousin sent me a text this week with a photo of her spices. She based the order on something I’d written years ago. I’d shared in that blog post that I remember seasoning poultry based on Simon and Garfunkel’s song, “Scarborough Fair/Canticle.” Every time I season poultry, I mentally sing the chorus to this song that includes, “Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.”

My cousin organized those spices in that order, and she added two nutcrackers that she named. One is Simon, and the other is Garfunkel. That she remembered something I’d written, made it her own in a clever way and then let me know about it tickled me to no end.

I created an art supply filled craft organizer for my granddaughter, so that she can paint rocks. Painting one for each member of the family to include in the gift made me happy. I enjoyed being creative, and I’m excited for her to have her own supplies. I sought out advice from a friend who paints rocks with her own granddaughter, and the ideas she gave made the gift even more special than I would have done on my own. Another person contributed a custom printed and cut vinyl sticker with my granddaughter’s name to personalize the tool box. All told, the project of creating this gift connected me with at least six different people in different ways.

When I’m analytical about what brings me joy, I see that they usually involve some element of connecting with others, learning, giving, creating, humor, cleverness, nature, progress or achievement. Knowing this helps me be aware and consider ways to intentionally infuse joy in my life.

When we share, it can raise our collective mood even if it’s just for a moment. It doesn’t offset the challenges and hardships. Rather, it adds a positive element to the whole of life. It can offer respite, redirect focus, spur inspiration and sometimes change the trajectory of a tough day, week, month, year or even life. The little things can make a big impact. And sharing good tidings is not selfish, it’s a gift to ourselves and others.

*Stacie Prada was diagnosed with RRMS in 2008 just shy of 38 years old.  Her blog, “Keep Doing What You’re Doing” is a compilation of inspiration, exploration, and practical tips for living with Multiple Sclerosis while living a full, productive, and healthy life with a positive perspective. It includes musings on things that help her adapt, cope and rejoice in this adventure on earth. Please visit her at http://stacieprada.blogspot.com/ 

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As a national nonprofit organization, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America is a leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free programs and services, such as: a toll-free Helpline; award-winning publications including a magazine, The Motivator; website featuring educational videos and research updates; S.E.A.R.C.H.™ program to assist the MS community with learning about different treatment choices; a mobile phone app, My MS Manager™; a resource database, My MS Resource Locator; equipment distribution ranging from grab bars to wheelchairs; cooling accessories for heat-sensitive individuals; educational events and activities; MRI funding and insurance advocacy; and more. For additional information, please visit http://www.mymsaa.org or call (800) 532-7667.

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