I was out on a walk with my dog Guinness Monday morning and I felt especially joyful. The downtown streets of Salt Lake City were pretty jammed up with morning commuters who were on their phones, drinking coffee, and waiting for the heat to kick in, on the way to their jobs.
I smiled, picked up the pace and was filled with joy because …
- I wasn’t in a car
- I didn’t have to drive to work
- I wasn’t cold
- My coffee was fresh air and a walk
- I didn’t have anywhere to be for hours
- I was excited about the work I had in front of me
- My dog was so happy to be playing in the leaves
It sounds like small, trivial stuff, but I was joyful, overjoyed really. I could have just as easily been miserable that I had to walk my dog on a cold morning. And, being the imperfect person that I am, some days I do go there first.
As I was walking, I thought about what my mornings looked like a few years ago. I was in the car, commuting to a job I didn’t like, and waiting for the heat to kick in. I remember days (mostly Mondays) where I felt anxious or depressed about the weekly meeting, and then other days (mostly Fridays) where I was looking forward to the weekend, grateful to have a job and happy about a new project.
What I didn’t give much thought to then, that I think about often now, is that joy is a choice. Yes, sad things happen, and I’m not suggesting that you walk around with a fake smile on your face everyday, just don’t dismiss the possibility that joy is option.
Joy is a choice, but sometimes we have to look more closely or create situations to invite it in. So on the days when you are too cold or too hot, when your heart breaks or your back aches, or when you are sick, tired, bored, grumpy or feeling generally un-joyful, make it a point to seek out the joy.
4 simple ways to seek out the joy
1. Capture simple beauty
Take pictures of the simple things that bring joy to your life during the day. I’ve had the picture above on my phone for months and every time I see it, my heart jumps a little. Stumbling on this alpaca farm brought me unexpected joy and this picture reminds me of the feeling.
Let your pictures bring you joy. Keep them all for yourself, send them to a loved one, or share on Instagram or another photo sharing site. I’ll be sharing some of the simple beauty in my life with the hashtag #simplebeauty. Join me!
2. Inspire joy
If making people happy makes you happy, inspire joy with kind words, big hugs and love notes. Don’t be shy or underestimate how important you are to the people around you.
3. Surround yourself with joy
Spend time with people who lift you up. Read about joyful people like Anki from Sweden, open-hearted Jill and joyful couple Marc and Angel. Watch movies with happy endings. Read a book about happiness. Create a joyful atmosphere by removing clutter.
4. Choose joy now
When you put your happiness off in hopes of a better situation, you deny yourself joy right now. If you’ve ever done the delayed gratification thing and decided to be happy when … when you lose weight, when you find true love, when you pay off your debt or when you get a better job, you are missing out. Right now is the right time to choose joy.
Seek out the joy and tell us about it. What brings you joy?