A call to grateful joy

Column Post by Laura Hyers

The end-of-the-year holidays have always been my favorite time of year. From October to December I am in a consistent state of bliss: it’s a season full of the nicest weather Florida ever gets, smashed tight with family and friends and parties and gatherings and plans, and way too much good food.

But if I look past the full calendar and the afternoons of breezes and bright blue skies, past the late nights and the pictures and the games and the memories made, past the clothes that always feel tighter when the new year arrives, I see that what I love most about this season is the joy that soaks deep into every moment, the shining times of overwhelming gratitude for the life I lead.

But I won’t—I can’t—pretend that I’ve got a perfect outlook.

Some days I wish the holidays would just hurry up so that the stress of splitting time between families could be over and dealt with, so that the gift-giver in me would stop spending more money than I have on that one last thing that will make this certain person so absolutely surprised and happy. For as much as it’s can’t-handle-it-happy, it’s also hold-my-breath-stressful.

And I don’t like that! I don’t like looking back at this most favorite time that passes way too quickly and seeing all the instances where my anxiety got the best of me, where a memory that could have been happy was lost to a short temper or a snide remark. I would so much rather relive the good, see the positive, than regret letting something bright and shining pass by while I sulk, or worry, or whatever.

So here’s my challenge for myself, and for you: make the choice to be joyful, to be thankful, to be present and happy and deeply, divinely aware of each minute.

Does this mean everything will go smoothly, that the family will get along and that finances won’t need a second thought? That you won’t miss the person who was here last year and isn’t here this year? No way. There will be struggles, times where grateful and joyful seems way too hard and maybe even just not worth it.

But I promise you, it is. It will be. Imagine getting through this holiday season with no regrets, no memories that you’d rather not remember, just a head and heart full of happy times with the people who mean the most to you.

The choice is ours, friend. We can commit to being the optimists, the joy-seekers, finders of the silver lining. We can be the women who light up the room when we walk In, no matter what the hidden doubting inner voices say.

It truly is a choice – are you willing to commit to joy and gratitude as 2012 comes to an end?

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We would LOVE to know your thoughts. Leave a comment and be entered in a drawing to win a copy of Max Lucado’s new Grace Happens Here.

Laura Hyers is a Tampa native, writer, and the newly wed wife of musician Caleb. She recently graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in literature and is currently teaching preschool. When not chasing a class of two-year-olds, Laura is writing and fighting fierce bouts of wanderlust. She loves music, reading, being near the ocean, and dreaming big over huge cups of coffee with her best friend Lakin. Laura blogs at http://littlebirdmarie.wordpress.com.

Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)

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