The Best Way to Experience Joy: Be Present

be presentLife is full. Good, but full. Days are long, time feels fleeting. It’s a great gift that the life I lead allows me to grow from people, just as much as I help them to grow. At every turn, there are nuggets of wisdom sprinkled throughout my work with others.

One such nugget of wisdom, I’ll never forget. A woman once turned to me and said, “How do you keep up with all you are doing?” And before I could even respond, she said something so beautiful. She said, “If I could give you any one gift, I would give you the gift of time.” And at that moment, all my thoughts came to a complete stop as I rested in the sweet presence of this beautiful offering. Her gift of insight, knowing and seeing something I couldn’t articulate, captured my presence. Yes, the gift of time — that couldn’t be more spot on. It’s an incredible gift that we all wish we had more of. Every day seems to go by so fast and there is never enough time to get everything done or to place the type of value on things we wish we could. Seasons of life come and go, changing so fast that we often look back and don’t know where the time has gone.

Each year, we try to slow down and take some kind of family vacation with the hopes that it will recharge us to come back with renewed energy and capacity to continue in some way with the work we do. This year, our only hope for our annual vacation was that it would bring that sense of renewal. And somehow, despite every unexpected tribulation on vacation (and there were many), as we returned home, we felt a sense of stillness we couldn’t describe. It was as if everything had slowed to a different pace we couldn’t have created if we tried. Time truly felt as if it were moving at a different pace than we had felt before. We were stilled by the silence, renewed by a different pace, and interestingly it truly felt as if we had been given the best gift of all, the gift of time. 

What I realized is that the best way to experience joy is to be present for it. Although joy is born in different ways all around us in lots of little ways, many of us are too preoccupied to even notice it. How easy is it to miss moments of beauty that are taking root all around us? When we pause long enough to tune into a moment, with our full attention and awareness, it’s amazing how much more we see taking place than what we may have registered only moments earlier. Suddenly we hear others through an entirely different perspective; one of connection, understanding, curiosity, meaning, and an interest to know more. When we tune into our life with our full presence of awareness, it also becomes easier to hear our own voice and become more aware of our motivations and feelings, so that our choices are not just conformed to our moment-to-moment reactions, but to our greater values.

Lastly, it becomes easier to notice and appreciate all that is good, giving birth to gratitude that wasn’t there only moments earlier. When we can be present, it becomes easier to love others as we are called to love them, to use our gifts in places where we are needed most, and to re-align our spirits with all that is good. Take a moment today, to protect your presence, not just your productivity.

About the Author

Dr. Roxanne Louh, a native of Gainesville, is a licensed clinical psychologist in Jacksonville, Florida, where she uses her extensive training in private practice with expertise in a variety of concerns, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, marriage, and parenting issues, and eating disorders, body image awareness, and women’s issues. She strongly believes in the prevention of mental health issues through education and awareness. Dr. Louh has presented to national groups, universities, area high schools, and churches across the country and continues to dedicate much of her time to community-wide presentations, reaching the public through various news media, social media, radio, educational talks, and blogs. An established member of the American Psychological Association, she regularly makes appearances on local news show The Chat and contributes to a blog for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, entitled “Healthy Minds Healthy Souls.” Together, Dr. Louh and her husband, Fr. Nicholas Louh, an Orthodox priest, co-host “Live with the Louhs,” a weekly radio show that airs at 8 p.m. EST on Ancient Faith Radio. She has also co-written a book with her husband entitled Renewing You: A Priest, A Psychologist and A Plan, which addresses eight of the biggest challenges she sees people dealing with and tackles them from both a faith and psychological perspective. Follow Dr. Louh on social media at @thelouhs or receive her powerful daily inspirational messages by subscribing to Dr. Louh lives in Jacksonville with her husband, Nicholas, and their two children, George and Gabriella.


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