How Much Joy Are You Letting Go to Waste?

I was taking a walk the other day, mentally replaying a couple of coaching calls I’d had that morning and thinking through everything I had to do the rest of the day.

I turned the corner, and suddenly right in front of me was the most beautiful cherry blossom tree in perfect bloom. It was stunning.

I reflexively stopped to admire it, and my mind went completely blank for a moment. It was just me and the tree and nothing else. I felt warm, content, and totally at peace.

After a few moments, I snapped out of my trance and continued on my walk, but I couldn’t stop thinking about that tree. It felt like a little spark of beauty and joy in the midst of the hustle and bustle of my day.

I started to wonder how many of those little moments of joy I was missing on a daily basis. I’d been so up in my head that I’d almost missed that moment of pure contentment that I’d felt admiring the cherry blossoms.

How many other moments just like that was I blind to every single day? How many opportunities for beauty and joy and love and peace was I letting go to waste?

I decided I’d try an experiment to answer that very question.

PUTTING ON MY JOY GOGGLES
For the next few days, I went on a quest for those small moments of joy. It became a fun challenge to myself to see how many I could find in a day.

I found that the smallest, simplest moments often contained the most potential joy:

  • Slowly drinking a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • Massaging my scalp as I washed my hair in the shower
  • Ordering off the menu exactly what my body was craving and then savoring every bite
  • Holding onto a hug a few seconds longer
  • Giving myself 10 extra minutes to lie in bed in the morning and daydream
  • Laughing with my brother over the phone
  • Literally stopping and smelling the spring flowers on my afternoon walk
  • Cuddling with a dog

I didn’t have to completely restructure my day to rendezvous with those moments of joy. They were already there for the taking, and it was my job to simply notice them and milk them for all they were worth.

When you put on your joy goggles and actively look for moments of peace and contentment and love, you’ll notice them everywhere.

JOY IS CONSTANTLY TRYING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION
Imagine yourself as a schoolteacher.

If Joy were one of your students, it would be the one quietly, patiently raising its hand, politely requesting your attention. Stress, on the other hand, would be the loud troublemaker, disrupting the class and demanding your attention.

Most of us are giving that troublemaker all of our attention and completely ignoring the quiet kid in the back of the room.

There are countless moments of joy in your day that are trying to get your attention and inviting you to fully embrace them, but you’re probably missing them because the stress in your life is louder.

YOU CAN’T EXPERIENCE JOY IF YOU’RE NOT HERE
Because joy is usually subtle, if you’re distracted or busy or rushing, you’ll blow right past it.

If you’re mindlessly scrolling through your phone, you’ll miss it.

If you’re up in your head, worrying or overanalyzing or fretting, you’ll miss it.

If you’re hurriedly running around, trying to check as many things off your to-do list as possible, you’ll miss it.

The only way to soak up all the potential joy waiting for you each day is to be here. In this moment. As in, your mind and body have to be in the same place.

When your mind is in the past, reliving some old event, or in the future, stressing about something that hasn’t happened yet … you’re not really here, so you miss out on all of the good stuff that’s available to you right here, right now.

OTHER SIDE EFFECTS OF SEEKING OUT JOY
In case feeling generally happier isn’t enough of an incentive for you to try out my joy experiment, here are some of the other side effects that come from seeking out more contentment in your daily life:

  • You’ll spend less time worrying since you’re not in your head as much.
  • You’ll be more present and supportive of the people in your life, which means your relationships will improve.
  • Stress and negativity won’t weigh you down so much, and when they do, you’ll bounce back quicker.
  • You’ll notice patterns of what brings you the most joy, so you can intentionally and strategically build your life and career around those things.
  • When you’re a more joyful person, you’ll attract positive people and experiences into your life with little to no effort.
  • Your health will improve since your body is harboring less stress.
  • You’ll feel inspired and creative more often.

HOW MUCH JOY ARE YOU LETTING GO TO WASTE?
If you want more joy in your life, you don’t necessarily have to change careers or book a vacation or pick up and move to a new city or make some other drastic life change (although if those things are calling to you and feel like the right next step, then by all means, go for it!).

All you have to do is notice and give into all of the moments of joy already available to you.

So the simple recipe for experiencing more joy in your life looks something like…

Be present. Pay attention. Hunt for joy. Milk those moments for all they’re worth. Repeat.

So now I want to challenge you to try your own joy experiment. Are you willing to put on your joy goggles and see just how much joy you’ve been letting go to waste? Let me know in the comments if you’re ready to take on the challenge!

I’d also love to hear some of your favorite everyday moments of joy. Share those with me in the comments too!

 

 

By Kristen Walker
@KristenNWalker