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Every moment offers a multiple choice of perceptions. Choose wonderment.

“Life is not a roll of the dice. It is a result of what conscious awareness we find ourselves living out from. We can make a deliberate choice to shift our perception from this atmosphere of sickness and sorrow and live out from a higher principle.”–Michele Longo-O’Donnell

Elizabeth Gilbert had the words “stubborn gladness” tattooed on her arm. It’s from her favorite poem by Jack Gilbert. In the poem, “A Brief for the Defense,” he writes, “We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.”

I think about stubborn gladness a lot. It defies the chasm so many of us believe—that you are either A) a realist who can’t help but notice the world is going to you-know-where in a you-know-what or 2) you’re a naïve Pollyanna who turns a blind eye to the world’s suffering.

The middle way, that Gilbert embraces, is to find joy even when……. even though….

The stubborn gladness worldview is being committed to finding the wonder amidst the chaos, amidst the terror.

A few years ago, a member of the Canadian Olympic dressage team came to a workshop I gave in British Columbia. I was spouting my normal controversial belief that joy is always possible, that finding it in every situation is one of the greatest gifts we can give our fellow humans. Some of the workshop participants weren’t so sure. But what about this? What about that?

So the Canadian Olympian told this story from her childhood. Her father worked for an international corporation. When the family was in the Philippines, they had a housekeeper who loved life with a deep and abiding joy. She found astonishment in everything. Her unabashed contentment and happiness was a continual source of inspiration to the wealthy family who employed her.

One day, a tsunami or earthquake or typhoon (sorry, I don’t remember the exact natural disaster) struck. The wealthy family fretted after hearing that their housekeeper’s family home had been swept away, had been completely obliterated in the storm. When she showed up for work the next week, they tiptoed around, wondering how they could help. They wanted to know how she and her family were faring. They fully expected her to be morose, to have lost her unbridled enthusiasm for the beauty of each moment.

“Oh, we are having so much fun,” she said. “My whole family, including all the aunts and uncles and cousins are living together in the basement of a church. It has been so fantastic all of us being together.”

Say what?

How was this even possible? How could she find joy in what most of us would rate as one of the top worst things that could ever happen.

Stubborn gladness, my friends, is an internal decision. No question that life sometimes throws curveballs. But it’s still up to us to cultivate joy and find the wonderment that, like air, always surrounds us.

Pam Grout is the author of 19 books including E-Squared: 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality and the just-released, Art & Soul,Reloaded: A Year-Long Apprenticeship to Summon the Muses and Ignite Your Daring, Audacious, Creative Side.

24 Responses

  1. Yes!!!! Thank you for this reminder today, Pam! “Stubborn gladness, my friends, is an internal decision. No question that life sometimes throws curveballs. But it’s still up to us to cultivate joy and find the wonderment that, like air, always surrounds us.”

    My own wording for a similar concept is “Celebrating in the Dark.” I truly believe that we can always find at least one little pinpoint of light that changes everything when life feels pitch black. In my own practice, and in what I coach, I seek and create those tiny pinpoints of light that are gifts to myself and others.

    Your posts are ALWAYS great big pinpoints of light that guide us all to greater joy. Yay! Thank you! 💥💓💥

  2. Thank you Pam!
    You always seem to show up at the right time with exactly what I need to hear. I sometimes feel I’m alone in my ‘glass half full’ ideology and this story has renewed my commitment to the power of staying grateful… for everything!
    All the Best!

  3. Thanks Pam. Isn’t that the whole point? To be happy no matter what? To quote Abraham, we need to find a way to feel good unconditionally, meaning without the condition of needing something in our life.

  4. Dear Pam, I love your work, so I hope you receive this in the spirit of enthusiastic new information, rather than a reprimand! Pollyanna completely embodied the spirit of “stubborn gladness”. I think it’s one of the losses of our culture that a book that so clearly emphasizes just what you are teaching has become completely misunderstood! I re-read it a year or two ago, and it was an amazing thing to reconnect with as an adult who has been teaching this stuff for the last 20 years! Enjoy!

  5. find joy even when……. even though…. I’m working on it Pam and it’s a little easier with your constant reminders. Thank you again as always. Much love and appreciation.

  6. I have always had a nice pair of “Joy” colored glasses. And these amazing stories – they are everywhere – are proof enough for me.

  7. In my Nursing career, I always took such joy in my job. I didn’t go along with the negative judgements of patients by co-workers but had a clean mind slate for each person and seemed to get along with them.

  8. Reblogged this on Musings of a Soggy Toast and commented:
    Much of my blog seems to act as a gathering hole for other wonderful thinkers and bloggers out there. This doesn’t bother me, as I had started this blog originally to have a space to put all the things I find inspirational.

    This is a beautiful post by Pammy Sue Grout about someone who chose to see the light despite dreary circumstances.

    May I learn to face life with the same strength and courage! 🙂

  9. My dear Pam, as always, your words are my source of inspiration. Thank you for teaching me every day of my life to find joy and happiness!

    1. Hi Pam, I have recently read your 2 books, E squared and E 3. All your experiments make good sense while I read through them. However, for the last 2 months I was not able to apply your advice. I do listen to the 8 happy songs and this is helpful. I am quite a negative person suffering from Bi-polar disorder. Everyone tells me to think positive and I try to but negative thoughts seem to win. When I feel balanced like today I can apply postive thoughts to my day. Do you have any advise into how I could apply a few of your expriments.

  10. Hi Pam
    Thanks for your wise words. I wish you were coming to the UK ‘i can do it’s this weekend. You were fab at the London event in 2014. Best wishes Lesley

  11. Thanks for this. I’ve been reading Lester Levenson and he said “Problems are a constant reminder that we are in the wrong direction.”

    Makes much more sense to choose joy.

  12. Not there just yet, but so very much better than I used to be. Have been working on bringing a bit more money (not much as to not overexceed my faith) each week and it has come without exception.

  13. Thank you for naming something that has always been a part of me that others cannot understand. I always though of it as having the ability to see wonder anyway. I like ‘stubborn gladness’ much better. I love life. It never ceases to reward me with something new and awesome!

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