I honestly don’t know why there’s so much profanity in this blog post. Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching too much Netflix and Youtube. You’ve been warned.
I hate this question and I love it. Because if you can answer it with “yesterday” then that’s great! If you can’t remember, the realization can be a little sombre.
I’m not gonna bore you with some long spiel about feeling joy as a child and how we all need to revisit that childlike wonder because, quite frankly, 1) wow what a boring metaphor 2) fuck that. It’s not realistic to revisit childlike wonder because I have rent to pay, meals to prep and should probably call my mom back.
As adults, I believe we experience joy very differently than when we were tiny humans. I, for one, don’t take that shit for granted like I did when I was a little kid.
Life is constantly trying to deflate us, cut us down to size, check us, humble us, remind us of where we are at, throw us for a loop, and screw us over to teach us lessons – so if I see a butterfly land on a goddam leaf right in front me you bet your ass I’m going to stop scrolling through Instagram and appreciate the beauty and magnificence of life for 10-15 seconds. I went YEARS without letting myself feel joy fully, so now when I do let those moments unfold I usually cry like a disturbed infant that has seen a clown and I appreciate it that much more. Sometimes it’s in public while I’m wearing my shirt that says PRETTY COOL BUT I CRY A LOT and then I start laugh-crying.
Joy is a fleeting opportunity.
I’m freelancing right now so I’m struggling with having ZERO sense of routine and I woke up at the beginning of this week just feeling…kinda flat? Turns out it was basically a sign the check engine light went on, but I digress.
I felt “fine,” but I don’t settle for fine.
Instead of ruminating on WHY I was feeling this way (me? overthinking my feelings? WOW shocking I know), I decided I needed an injection of joy.
Then I found this article that hit it right on the head:
“Looking back, it was on that day that I decided that even if I was fine, fine was not enough.
Fine is not thriving.
Fine is not complete.
Fine is not what I came here to experience, and I couldn’t face another day of pretending to be here and whole.
My sense of wonder and magic, my awe, my creative spirit, and my light had been calling out to me all this time. Only I couldn’t hear it until then.” (full article here)
It’s easy to get so caught in life, rushing from place to place and checking things off our to-do lists that we can be bad at taking in those moments and end up missing them entirely.
Or alternatively, it can be hard to let yourself feel happiness or joy. I know it sounds silly, when you state it like that, but it makes sense because it’s fleeting and hard to trust. Like cheap food court sushi until it makes you sick.
Joy is the ultimate pattern interrupt.
Joy breaks through the unimportant bullshit in our heads, through the concerns and preoccupations and finds its way straight into our hearts.
Joy brings us into the present moment.
Joy and gratitude are two concentric circles if you ask me. Feeling the warm wash of gratitude over you is like stepping into a sunbeam. But the thing is, you gotta be willing to move your feet in order to feel it.
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
So I want you, right now, to take a deep breath that you feel in your ribs and stomach. Drop your shoulders and unclench your jaw. Read this then close your eyes: replay the last time you laughed until you couldn’t anymore in your head, then think about the last time you smiled because you couldn’t help it and the last person you embraced.
DOESN’T IT FEEL GOOD?! We do so many things expecting joy out of them, but the truth is we have to be mentally, physically and emotionally there to experience it. We have to let it hotwire it’s way to our hearts.
I’ll drive that getaway car any day.
Here are 21 small suggestions on small ways you can seek out joy:
- Hold the door for someone and make eye contact. Eye contact is such an underused, amazing form of human connection.
- Write down on whatever paper you have near you three good things that have happened in the last 24hrs.
- Give your mittens to someone who looks like they need them and wish them well.
- Find some swings. Go on them.
- Go outside on a sunny day and take some big, deep breaths. Even if it’s only for five minutes and the air hurts your face.
- Read two pages of a book you know you love (I can’t help but laugh at this book).
- Watch a YouTube video that always makes you laugh (here’s my go to).
- Watch five minutes of your favourite comedian on Netflix (I’m a big fan of Ali Wong and/or Iliza Shlesinger).
- Ask someone for a hug.
- Put on a banger and dance f*cking HARD until you are out of breath (here you go).
- Hang out with a dog/cat. Don’t have pets? Find a dog to hang out with.
- Write someone you appreciate a note and leave it somewhere for them to find.
- Have an orgasm.
- Cook a new recipe and enjoy it (I made this for dinner this week and it was great).
- Dig something out of your closet that always makes you feel amazing when you wear it and put it on even if it makes no sense for the context you’re wearing it in.
- Text your funniest friend asking them to cheer you up. I’m sure they won’t disappoint.
- Live music. Self explanatory.
- Take a nap. Hell ya. SLEEP!
- Go to the library. Even being around a bunch of books is therapy.
- Book something in the near future that you can get excited about (it can be big or small) then set a countdown in your phone so you can get warm fuzzies leading up to it. Remember: don’t wait for other people to be free – if you really want to do something, just go do it, dammit.
- Ride a rollercoaster or do something equally scary and adrenaline based. Better than drugs! Yay.
If you are NOT in a place, emotionally, where you can access joy, or maybe just can’t GET there for any number of reasons, that’s ok friend. Even the idea that it’s out there waiting for you, and that you deserve it, can be comforting. Don’t beat yourself up.
Side note: I own this book and it makes for a great gift or little micro-dose of joy. Highly recommend.