“Joy is not in things; it is in us.” ~ Richard Wagner
The Crab-apple blossoms are out! Aren’t they beautiful? I took the picture while walking home last week after teaching a complete novice how to update her organization web site. I loved the look of surprise when she discovered how easy it was! What a moment of joy! She was so excited because up until then, she had relied on outsiders to make the updates. It was as if she was now the fisherman and had just caught her first guppy. I was so happy for her.
Joy is that warm ethereal glow in our hearts arising from beauty, gratitude, kindness and love. It bubbles to the surface with compassion, hugs, smiles and laughter. It is one of those things we need to nurture daily so it won’t get buried among the stressors and losses in our lives. It’s a mindset, something we choose to tap into every day – even if it lasts only for a moment.
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day” ~Henri J.M. Nouwen.
Joy happens when we let go of any self-consciousness and get swept up in an activity: playing a guitar and not noticing what our fingers are doing; being immersed in a game of baseball instead of thinking about playing. Joy surfaces even in tough times. My husband injured his back last week and the morning he rolled out of bed without a spasm was an occasion to celebrate. It’s completely losing track of time, connecting and being in the moment.
Over the next 40 days, I am joining MeiMei Fox, Khary Penebaker, Bernadette Xiong, Myree Battle and others to consciously nurture joy every day. I started my practice last week and here’s how my first four days went.
Day 1: Teach someone something new (or teach a pet a new trick) –
Well, you already read about it in the first paragraph. It was a great kick-off activity.
Day 2: Get immersed in a good book –
I took a much needed Kate day and sat in my easy chair reading a Trisha Ashley novel and napping all day long. I felt so refreshed and energized the next day!
Day 3: Make a long distance phone call to someone special –
A funny thing happened – my son called me and not the other way around. That counts doesn’t it? I love talking to him; he knows how to make me laugh.
Day 4: Exercise Outdoors
I played my first golf game of the season! Just being out there is always a joy for me and I topped it off with a happy dance after I sunk my par putt on one of the challenging holes.
The purpose of this little project is to cultivate joy in our daily lives. No doubt we’ll be tired at some point and feel like the practice is just ‘another item on our endless to-do list’. But what I’ve learned in the past is that once I get into the activity and relax, I have fun. Capturing the moment and sharing it in some way crystallizes it, transcribing it to lasting memory. And these memories inspire us, giving us strength and courage and a way through our dark days.
Won’t you join us? I could certainly use some ideas to add to my list.
1. Embrace the beauty around you
2. Sing out loud
3. Dance in the kitchen
4. Dinner out with good friends
5. Hug or climb a tree
6. Help someone in a small way; be of service
7. Play like a kid
8. Use the good dishes
9. Create something
10. Eat a cupcake with no hands
11. Walk in the rain and jump in a puddle
12. Name 5 things you are grateful for in a day
13. Watch a favorite old movie
14. Ask someone for help (and express appreciation for their kindness)
Let’s rebuild and nurture our joy muscles this spring – we may not change the world, but we can change our world, one day at a time.