I came across an interesting perspective recently – mulling over if gratitude and ambition were at odds in ourselves. It’s a fascinating topic. After all, we seem to be designed to push ourselves, to do more, to be more, to grow and to win. And forward motion is certainly attractive. It keeps us consuming and helps us focus on our goals. What would the make-up or even wellness industry thrive on if we weren’t slightly obsessed with being ‘better’ versions of ourselves? At our core, we want to accomplish things no matter how grand or small. Even on holidays or long weekends, we tend to prepare a mental list of ‘what I did’ items that can be shared with others when they inevitably ask us to reflect on the time we just experienced.
Where does gratitude fit in? Gratitude asks us to be grateful today. To give thanks for exactly what we have right now. No projecting into the future, no longing or hoping for more or different. Just here. Just now. If we’re grateful for who we are and what we have, does that automatically mean we’ll want to achieve or strive for less?
I’m sure ambition and gratitude can co-exist yet it’s an interesting pull. For me, I love challenges and it’s important to set goals and celebration accomplishments – but the balance has shifted to knowing I am and I have ‘enough’. That’s pure JOY.
There are endless ways to express JOY – laughter; high fives; dancing; words or letters of gratitude; hugs; the list goes on and on. For me, one popular device is to tip.
Do you tip? Maybe it’s my American upbringing or my close to the surface memories of waitressing and being thrilled to see someone give you cash of their own free will . . . but tipping is part of my DNA. I like to think it’s not an automatic response, but instead, something that marks an out of the ordinary experience. I’ve had two of these sweet experiences recently.
Since piccolos are the coffee of choice for both me and Richard, we’ve grown more and more confused at the growing surcharges for soy or almond milk. The tiny amount of milk added hardly seems worth the 50 cents or even $1 – gulp. So imagine my JOY when ordering two almond picos recently at a café in Rose Bay and being charged six bucks. Yup – that was the cost for BOTH. Ha! The barista/owner was on the bandwagon of cafes overcharging for mere drops of milk. And in return, she received a lavish tip from me. Now, you might suggest that my tipping negated the benefit of the low-cost cuppa joe, but for me, it was a monetary offering that reflected a JOYful experience.
As my coffee settled, I noticed my spontaneous manicure from a few days ago was chipping and the polish needed to come off. I wondered if a nail salon would complete the task for $5 or so. I popped into a salon I’ve never visited and tested the waters. They checked out the damage and declared ‘no charge’ and in 20 quick seconds, my polish was gone. Success! As my JOY bucket was full, I offered to pay them for such a great service. Again, they voiced ‘no charge’. Since I had a few coins rattling around and wanting to share my JOY, I left $4 on the table. As I left, they came charging after me with the coins, now shouting, ‘no pay, no pay!’ I turned around and said ‘you’ll have to catch me’ and I started running. I peeked back to have one more look and fortunately, they weren’t running after me but instead had crumbled into a bit of a heap, with laughter shaking their bodies.
Yup, JOY is best shared.
In an ugly turn of fate, several of my closest friends have been dealt extremely rotten cards lately. I have friends facing anxiety, cancer, divorce, MS, reconstructive surgery, AVOs and reoccurring bouts of more cancer. My heart bleeds for them. I want to take away their pain, their worry, their fear and replace it with something uplifting, or perhaps even just normalcy.
As a friend, what do we truly have to offer? And how do we react in these situations?
More than one of these friends has insisted they don’t want to be seen as a victim. That label seems more painful for them than even their illness. One brave soul has even gone so far as not to share her news with people as she can’t stomach seeing that ‘poor you’ face again and again.
It’s nearly impossible to say the right thing or even have the right reaction when you hear terrible news connected to someone you love. But perhaps there’s still room for JOY. Maybe when someone is suffering, it’s time for us to lend a bit of the JOY that naturally flows in our healthy bodies and minds. I reckon JOY is always worth giving and receiving.