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  • Gabrielle Elise Jimenez

The Joy Counter

At the end of your day, do you think about how many times you might have felt joy? I have been thinking a lot about this, especially recently. I have always been a “glass half full” kind of gal, but it seems that lately I am so overwhelmed by everything we are all having to try and navigate in our world, that I find myself focusing more on how tired I am, or sad, or scared, or everything in between. I think I may have lost sight of joy and that makes me sad.

I looked up the definition of joy: “A feeling of great pleasure and happiness". When was the last time you felt great pleasure or happiness?

I want to share a story with you, which will hopefully have the same effect on you, as it did on me… and perhaps you too will start finding the joy in every single day the way I have been doing. And trust me when I tell you this; when you start paying attention to the beauty, the magic, and the deliciousness of life, even in the most difficult of times, you will start to find hope again, and you may even help others to do the same.

I have been spending time with a patient who struggles every day with being able to communicate his feelings, his needs, and his emotions. He cannot put all the right words together, which is so hard for him, because he is very much aware that we are all trying desperately to figure out what it is he wants to say. And yet, despite his daily struggle, he is kind, he is gentle, and he feels love with such enthusiasm that I find myself drawn to him hoping that just a tiny bit might rub off on me so that I too can find hope… and joy and the appreciation for everything, even the tiniest of things. He is one of the loveliest humans I have been gifted to share time with... and his wife follows suit.

I was sitting next to his bed the other day, when I looked up above his head, where he has a variety of different things hanging from his grab bar. I saw this little silver box with a black knob in the center, and I asked his wife what it was. She looked at her husband and smiled, he gazed lovingly back at her, and she asked him if she could tell me. He smiled, and said, “yes.”

She told me that after the months of failed treatment, and continuous reports from doctors that he would not be able to beat his diagnosis, despite how hard he tried, he understandably went to a dark place and lost sight of hope. This didn’t last long though, because he is determined, and brave, and saw that hope was within reach. They found a little “tally counter” one day, and he started to play with it. I can’t remember whose idea it was, but they decided that they would use it to count their moments of joy each day. When something would happen that would make one of them smile, they would press the button and clock in another moment of joy. Finding joy in each day made the days a little more bearable, the darkness a little lighter, and smiles a little more frequent.

Of course, I started to cry when they shared their story, and I told them how wonderful it was. I said something along the lines of, “the whole world needs a joy counter right now”.

I heard him whisper to her, “we should give Gabby a joy counter,” and she whispered back, “do you want me to give her one?” and he said, “yes.” She walked over to a dresser and rummaged around for a minute or two, returning with three small boxes that she put in front of me. In each box, was a joy counter. Each one was different, but their job was the same, and she asked me to pick one for myself. I sat there looking at the boxes with childlike enthusiasm, excited about all of the joy I too will get to count, and I settled on the blue box.

I am so thankful in general for the work I get to do, but even more so, for the people I meet and the lessons I collect because of them. His time with us is unpredictable, and I hope to spend as much of it as I can with him, because he is the epitome of joy, and he is many of the reasons I push my counter button. Their love for one another, is like no other. They remind me to appreciate everything, especially moments of joy.

We cannot wish away the difficulties our world is facing right now, we can’t close our eyes to it hoping it all disappears when we open them again, but we can try to navigate it all in such a way that we put finding joy in our days ahead of the attention we give all the other stuff that weighs us down.

Look around you… there is joy, I truly believe that… find it… and start counting your daily joys. xo



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