Happy Joyous August,
I hope your July was amazing and your August is off to an awesome start.
For me the first week of August was awesome but also a little difficult. Several times a year I run a laughter and happiness program for a community group where the youngest member is 89 and the oldest is into 3 figures. Although she tells me that “a lady never reveals her age” she also adds that her mother had a tough year back in 1914! I can only guess. Sadly 2 weeks ago one in the group passed away. I was invited to the funeral, or more precisely the celebration of a life well lived.
The ceremony was held at a small local church where Joyce, the departed, had attended Sunday School almost a century ago. It was barely big enough for the gathering, Joyce was a popular woman with a very large family, she was one of 12 and had 9 children of her own plus 29 grand children and 14 great grand children. Family members shared the story of Joyce’s life. We learned about her schooling, work and community life, marriage and family, and then her granddaughter Alison addressed us. With the family’s permission I thought I’d share a summary of what Alison shared. First Alison told us that she, like all the family members knew her grandmother as Granjoy (not only a combination of grandma and Joyce but a description of Joyce who most of the family considered Grand Joy incarnate, she was a very happy, generous and delightful woman).
She then shared that Granjoy had two basic rules for life: be AWESOME and be GRATEFUL!
Alison went on to tell us that Granjoy had taught every member of her family and anyone who would listen that life should never be taken for granted. That everything we do and everything we experience should fill us with awe and gratitude.
Awe, Granjoy believed, was that sense of wonder, sometimes of fear, often of joy, that stops the thoughts of the day and fills our hearts with wonder allowing us to be truly in the moment.
Gratitude, Granjoy believed, was, like awe, basic to life. Alison lifted her hands and seemingly without rehearsal most of the congregation called out in unison “Be grateful that you are here at all, and be grateful that here is awesome!” Clearly a much shared saying of Granjoy’s. The room filled with laughter and Alison shared with those who had not had the pleasure of Granjoy’s lessons, happily I had the pleasure at our laughter and happiness sessions, that the skills of gratitude are as simple as saying thank you, being nice and stopping every now and then to really and fully appreciate our lives.
Before she left the pulpit Alison smiled and said “Thank you Granjoy. It was Dr Seuss who said that often we don’t know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. Thank you for teaching us all to understand the value of every moment as and when they arise, and the skills of living a life that is truly awesome and filled with gratitude, we are all honoured to be related to you.”
You don’t usually hear applause in churches and very rarely at funerals but this funeral was different. The congregation stood and clapped and there were calls of “Thank you Granjoy, you are awesome and we are grateful that you chose us to be your family”. As I was heading for the party, no one was calling it the wake, I overheard some say “Granjoy would have loved that, that was awesome!” Awesome is not a word I’ve ever heard used to describe a funeral before but the family did put on an awesome celebration in honour of their beloved Granjoy and I will forever be grateful for the invitation.
This month you might like to take some time to be in awe of your world, to be awesome, and to show and feel gratitude for all that is a part of your life. It’s an awesome way to be.
Have an awesome rest of August and don’t forget, if you’re after a dynamic laughter program that is guaranteed to get your group moving and laughing, want to know more about the science of happiness, would like your group to learn the basics of mindfulness or engage in a discussion about awesomeness and gratitude then we are the people to contact.