I have always loved the outdoors…nature in particular. As a kid growing up in a really small town in Central NY, I spent many hours during the summer climbing trees, making forts, pretending that I was Daniel Boone, or Grizzly Adams. Well, I did have a beard at a young age.
Photo by Rhett Noonan on Unsplash
I took up hunting and trapping in my early teens, which wasn’t just about killing an animal, but was also about learning the habits of animals, the times of the day or year that were best, what terrain they would be found in, how to stay down wind of them, etc. This required many hours in the woods and fields around my childhood home. I loved watching different species of animals and found as much joy in seeing them in their habitat as taking them home for dinner. I loved walking through the woods, the smell of fresh cut hay, old barns, and any kind of water.
It is no different for me today. My senses are always on high alert for any kind of wildlife, an old barn, a stand of hardwood trees, or a view of a lake or river. As matter of fact, one of my favorite things to do is to photograph all of the things that I love. I have them made into prints, and then attach them to note cards, and use them to write thank you notes, or notes of encouragement.
Recently I was at a conference and the speaker asked us to get our journals out and write down the practices in our lives that bring us joy? What a great question, right? How often do we take the time to ponder the things in life that bring us joy? So as I sat there at the conference with my journal open and my pen hovering over the paper I was filled with gratitude that even though my life as a young boy was spent almost entirely alone, I lived in the country where I could walk in any direction and be in the woods, or playing in a stream, or watching a hawk soar above my head. I am grateful that I learned to appreciate the simple beauty in the world…the changing colors in the fall, a weathered barn in a field, a reflection in the water, or twin spotted fawns running and jumping while being watched closely by their mother.
Photo by Pete Emhoff
Brene Brown says that through her years of research she found that truly joyful people are people who practice gratitude in their daily lives.
So what about you? What practices bring you joy in your life? I encourage you to spend some time with these questions in solitude. Maybe you start with what you are grateful for and see where it leads. It will be good for your heart, I promise.