Every Sunday evening, as the week comes to an end, I take out my journal. I turn to a new page. At the top I write Joy List. Then I list the things that have brought me joy in the past week. Joy is defined as, “things that sustain your desire to be alive.”

This is a wonderful exercise. To frame my life in terms of positivity reaps many benefits. I notice and appreciate the good stuff. What you focus on, is what you will find. This exercise has me focused on the positive.

Joy Listing has not always come easily. It was first introduced to me when I was in a long term psychiatric facility. There was little to bring me Joy.

I remember the session well. The Occupational Therapist wrote on a big flipchart the title: Joy List. We patients scoffed and heckled. Despite her best efforts, her paper remained empty.

But the exercise always stayed with me. I knew that when I was ready it would be a good practise. Once I was home and working on my Recovery Journey, it seemed an excellent pursuit.

But still it was a challenge. One Sunday I got out my special diary. I wrote down Joy List. Nothing happened. I couldn’t think of anything.  After a couple of hours, I sadly only had two things on my list. I was greatly disappointed.

I thought I must be doing it wrong. Maybe I was defining Joy as the big stuff – the new car, the fabulous job, the perfect partner. I had none of these things. The exercise was getting me down.

Soon a new idea occurred to me. Maybe Joy was about the everyday things. The simple things I did a lot of. I must do them a lot because they bring me some positivity.

It didn’t take me long to come up with my first little thing that brought me Joy. I wrote on my list: Sultana Bran. You see I ate a lot of Sultana Bran – breakfast, lunch, supper and an evening snack.

And that was the turning point. Suddenly I had an epiphany. It was like an avalanche of suggestions came to me. I quickly wrote – hot showers, going for walks, doing the dishes, watching TV, playing with the dog. There was an abundance of things that brought me Joy. I can honestly say I was now over joyed.

Since that time, I have kept it as a Sunday night ritual. I recommend you try it, it may change the way you think. It is wonderful to spend my week alert to the positive things which I will write on my list. I have now gone past the obvious. Really little things can make a huge difference. I am now Joyful that I have ink in my pen, hot water in my tap, and blankets on my bed. My whole world is one which “sustains my desire to be alive.”

And, of course, the way I like to tell the story – the Sultana Bran really freed me up!