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Little Pieces of Joy

It’s been a hard week. I don’t think I’m alone in that reality. I have heard countless stories this week of loss, tragedy, difficult news, death, and financial struggle.


For quite some time, the state of the world has felt heavy and burdensome. I can’t click online without encountering something shocking or sad. And those are the things not compounded by sensationalism or exaggeration.

And like the tale of Pandora’s Box, the troublesome things are here to stay. Once the box was opened, all the bad things came out, never to be put back in again.

But the truth is, there is absolutely nothing we can do about most of the troubles in this world. We can make sure we don’t create more, but beyond that, so much is out of our control.

Years ago a therapist told me that I could choose my perspective. I could choose happiness and joy, or not. Now don’t get me wrong, this does not dismiss a mental health diagnosis, a prescription treatment, or other conditions where choice is a very tall order. I am also not a health care practitioner or therapist, so this is not professional advice, but rather a story of what has helped me feel better about life and the world.

Today, I ran into Publix to get a few grocery items. When I got to the checkout line, I asked for a paper sack. When the bagger shook it out, I unexpectedly got a lump in my throat. You see, when I was growing up my family was very routine. We went to Kroger grocery store every Thursday at 5:00 p.m. After about 45 minutes or so of purchasing a nearly identical “buggy-full” as the week before, our groceries were bagged in paper sacks and lined up.

It was also the time I could choose a candy bar from the display along the aisle. We didn’t keep candy or many treats in the house, so this was a coveted treat. I’m guessing it was probably about 50 cents, instead of $2.99, but we’re choosing joy here.

In my rush, it would have been easy to brush it off and continue with my day. Instead, I stopped, looked around at the candy and magazines, and for a moment was transported back to a time and place that enveloped me in goodness and felt like a warm hug. I gave thanks for this unexpected and beautiful memory – for the simple sound of a paper sack.

A smile spread across my face as I thought about the gift of joy such mundane details can bring and wondered how many I had missed in my overwhelmed and rushed life.

I promise if you look, you’ll begin to see them all around. And maybe with a bit of intention, we can string together little moments and pieces of joy that can change our entire perspective, from despair and overwhelm to gratitude and hope.

If you, too, are having a difficult week or season – I wish for you little pieces of joy wrapped in everyday packages.

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Dana is an Arkansas native and a seasonal resident of the Gulf Coast since childhood. She was a Pensacola resident for 13 years, before moving to Gulf Breeze. Dana attributes her Mayberry-esque childhood in Warren, Arkansas, as enormously influential in honing her definitely Southern style of storytelling. She earned a degree in Journalism, Advertising/Public Relations from the University of Arkansas (Woo Pig Sooie!). In addition to writing, she loves photography, art, adventures in the great outdoors, and spending time with her three children.