#reverb 12: joy
What activity brings you the most joy? (Lee Currie) and from Meredith: Cultivate isn't about being in a constant state of happiness -- it's about practicing happiness, much like you'd practice a sport or musical instrument. How can you infuse more appreciation for the people, places, and things that bring you joy?
I love this question because I don't think we consider joy enough in our lives and I think, as a culture, we see happiness as something that happens or a point we reach once we've acquired enough or accomplished enough. Though I do think there are people who are resisting such a narrative, which is significantly important work.
When I consider joy, I think of feeling delight and wonder, sheer and complete happiness and contentment. I think of the small things in life that make me happy or surprise me: the shades of pink the sky turns during sunset, a note from a friend, discovering 5 dollars in my pocket, when a song I really like comes on the radio, the way my body feels after a workout, watching a really good film in the theatre, holding hands with M, laughing so hard my cheeks hurt, the sadness of finishing a truly good book, cooking, taking photos, conversations with friends, and on and on. I try to find joy not only in things I do, but things I see, notice and feel. So, while this question asks about activities that bring me joy, my response is about all of the things that make me joyful, and there are many.
There are several ways that I attempt to cultivate these states: paying attention to my creative, physical and emotional needs, doing activities that feed and nurture my creativity, creating a space for play, and challenging myself. Some days I am cranky or on edge or feel like I am unraveling, and when I have those moments I try to think about what I need. Most of the time in these cases, I do something for my body: run, hike, go to the gym, yoga, take a shower or a walk. But some times I need something more or something in addition to the physical movement of doing so I meditate or read or listen to music. I watch a movie or call my mom. I write, usually in this blog space, sometimes on facebook and sometimes a poem or journal. I play Angry Birds or Songpop or the Wii. I get out of my headspace and focus on something else.
On days I am able to better appreciate the small things, I am generally happier, and more joyful. And for me, odd as it sounds, it means giving myself permission to be silly and playful, to enjoy my surroundings, to surrender to the moment. I frequently make grateful lists and journal or blog about what is making me happy in a particular moment or day. Today, I am happy for writing and collaborating with a colleague from grad school. I find joy in words. I mispelled savior in something I was writing and wrote savoir instead, which is French meaning "to know," and I thought, yes, that's exactly it.