Finding Joy Makes All The Difference

Keenan McGrath Working Parent

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A few years ago I hated my job. More specifically I hated my boss, and came home every day ranting in circles about his latest insult to my professional trajectory. It got to the point that listing my daily injustices played on a loop in my head, constantly dragging me back into my pit of dissatisfaction. I had a beautiful baby girl, a husband who loved me, a fabulous life in Manhattan, and yet I spent half of every waking hour having mental arguments with someone who didn’t even know we had an issue, and undoubtedly wouldn’t have cared anyway.

My entire happiness was being overtaken by this rage, and I couldn’t get around it, I just couldn’t seem to snap out of it, and then….a 15-year-old dance club song changed my life.

I stumbled across the Kim English hit, Unspeakable Joy, on my husband’s iTunes and immediately loaded it onto my iPod. I began walking my daughter in the park on the mornings she woke at an ungodly hour, playing all 9 minutes of the song on repeat… “Joy, unspeakable joy, ‘cause they did not give it they cannot take it away. Joy, unspeakable joy, in my heart and I won’t let them steal my joy.”

In addition to being an incredibly catchy dance song, I found the lyrics spoke to me, they cleared my head. On his best day, Mr. Chief Executive Douchebag couldn’t ever give me joy, not even close, so why in the hell was I giving him the power take it from me? I was making the choice to focus on this one negative thing in my life, and I was missing all the joy.

The little joys like finding money in the back pocket of your jeans, or stumbling upon your favorite song on the radio; running into an old friend on the street or watching your babies while they sleep. And the big joys like seeing your little sister get married or your kid graduating from college; finally taking that Alaskan cruise or celebrating an anniversary milestone.

Joy is an enormous emotion, yet a tiny word that often gets lost in the daily shuffle of career and family and thrice weekly trips to the grocery store. In fact, outside of Christmas decorations, it’s difficult to find anything proclaiming the word Joy, as if it’s a sentiment reserved for the holidays alone. I gave up searching and had a necklace made that I wear every day. It is my talisman, my signature, my reminder that joy is always around me, I just have to remember to see it. There will always be struggles with health or money or family, and often the cliché that “every day is a gift” feels like a bad White Elephant party. Joy isn’t always easy to find, sometimes you have to literally stop what you’re doing and remember to look around for it- the sun on your face after a week of rainy days, a lone ice cream sandwich hidden in the back of the freezer, an old photograph from a family vacation where everyone was suntanned and smiling.

What brings each of us joy will be different from the next person, but we are responsible for finding our own. There are good days and bad days. Some days I find frustrating, some days I find exhausting, and many days I just find a glass of wine. But every day, at least once, I find joy…and it has made all the difference.


About the Author

Keenan McGrath

Keenan McGrath lives in Charlotte, NC where she tries to cultivate a lifestyle of fabulocity while raising 2 kids and husband who worship the quicksand she walks on.

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