Stop and Twirl: Recognizing a Good Day

(Portions of this article first published as Stop and Twirl: Honoring Joyful Moments with Happiness on Technorati.)

Last month’s travels were mostly for speaking engagements and book signings, but one destination was for VOICE 2012 (a voice -over conference), held at the Disneyland resort.  One morning I walked through Downtown Disney, and watched excited families head toward the entrance of the Magic Kingdom.

One of the families had to stop abruptly as they made their way towards the magic. Why? Their little girl, dressed in her princess finery, simply had to stop and twirl, to express her joy and anticipation to the world – and also, I suspect, to feel the thrill of the swishing of her beautiful princess dress.

She was just too happy and excited to merely keep walking. She had to stop and feel the joy. And, by doing so, she marked that moment of happiness not only for herself but for all (including me) who saw her pure expression of happiness.

We all need to do that, I thought. Honor the happy moments, cement them in our memory banks, by taking that simple second to just notice how happy we are. And to share it if we can.

I just returned from Seattle, where I spoke at the NAMI National Convention. The five-day event included many stories of success, but also of heartbreak, frustration, confusion and loss.

The note on the fridge was from Ben.

Yay! I cooked the cauliflower! I added the mushrooms and tofu and used an Indian sauce mix! You can have some. It’s in the fridge. Love, Ben

Simple, right? But after talking to so many families whose loved ones were refusing treatment, or whose treatment wasn’t working, or who had lost a loved one to the prison system, homelessness, or suicide, that note stood out as a moment of joy to me in its easy simplicity.

Sure, a year ago Ben was in the middle of a relapse. Sure, it could happen again despite all we are doing to walk by his side with love, discipline and hope. Still, right now it’s a good day. Ben is in treatment, purposeful, clean and sober, and even employed. He is in the bosom of our family (though he pays rent for his apartment that is so lonely he hates to be there), and even listened to my parting advice to cook and eat the vegetables.

Yes, indeed, a good day. The “other shoe” isn’t falling today. So I am grateful. And I’m going to stop and twirl.

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