“If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment.” - Carlos Santana
2022 doesn't seem to be any different from those preceding it, and there is a flurry of resolution and goal setting. Perhaps, like me, you feel apprehensive this year about diving right in with the busyness that New Year resolutions demand?
There's nothing inherently wrong with setting a New Year's resolution. Where things can get problematic is when you're doing it from a place of obligation or pressure. After the last two frenetic years, it feels as if being gentler and slower out the starting blocks may serve us better than aiming for the very distant finish line of yet another year-end.
What could you do then (if anything)? Instead of cultivating a bunch of new pledges and habits, why not spend time nurturing joy or a sense of joie de vivre? Joie de what?
My French heritage influences my choice of words!
Joie de Vivre [zhwa.da.ve.vre]
french n. 1. “joy of life”
Joy is often considered a frivolous sentiment. It's a squishy concept lumped with happiness, and together, they frolic in fields and pirouette across Disney screens.
Joy differs from happiness. Where happiness is a measure of how good we feel over time, joy is about what makes us feel good in the present moment.
My personal definition of joy is that it results from curiosity and connection. We feel joy when we are truly connected to ourselves in the present moment, with the people in our lives, with our work, with nature, and with a sense of purpose.
According to author and researcher Brene Brown, "Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience, and if you cannot tolerate joy, what you do is you start dress rehearsing tragedy."
Joy is such a far cry from how most people live their daily lives. So many of us have given up on joy, but the good news is that you can reclaim it. Yes – even in these stressful, uncertain times.
For an increasingly anxious and disappointed generation, joy may become one of our most precious pursuits.
When feeling joyful, you experience changes in your body — colours seem brighter, your physical movements more effortless, and smiling happens naturally. Your brain changes too. Research has found that your thinking and attention naturally broaden when you feel joy and other positive emotions, making you a better creative problem solver, more resourceful, and in the long-term, more resilient and resistant.
Generally, we know that more moments of joy lead to outcomes that tend to build toward happiness. For example, research shows we're more physically attractive to other people when we're in a state of joy. There's something magnetic about it. It’s contagious, drawing people to us. And then there are studies (Shaun Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage) that show that it can influence our work performance, so salespeople that exhibit joy are more likely to do better business.
Here are some wonderful ways to cultivate this precious emotion…
In the captivating Ted Talk, Ingrid Fetell Lee reveals the surprisingly tangible roots of joy and shows how we all can find and create more of it in the world around us.
Your physical world (home, other, and nature) can be a resource to help us create happier, healthier lives, and Ingrid shares how to bring yourself into joy more often by seeking it or weaving it into your spaces.
Joy could be right in front of you! According to Ingrid Fetell Lee, the things physically surrounding us have not been given enough credit when it comes to joy-bringing.
Drawing on her own experiences and insights from neuroscience and psychology research, she presents 10 aesthetics that can bring moments of profound joy.
Watch the Ted Talk here: https://www.ted.com/talks/ingrid_fetell_lee_where_joy_hides_and_how_to_find_it
How? There is a practice called joyspotting. It's about paying attention to the little joyful things in your surroundings. It could be as simple as taking ten seconds right now, wherever you are, to look around you and ask, "what do I see, hear, or feel that gives me a little lift right now?"
Especially in the middle of the pandemic, day-to-day life can feel pretty blah. Identify an ordinary moment in your day (like making a meal or a meeting) or a pre-existing routine (like a workout or an afternoon walk) and try to make it joyful.
Use your senses to make the ordinary a little bit extraordinary. How can you tap into your gifts of sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch to seek and elevate joy in your day-to-day life and workspace?
■ What has made me smile or feel joy today?
■ If nothing has, take pause, and ask what would make me smile or feel joyful?
■ How do you know when you are feeling 'Joie de vivre'? What happens in your body? How do you feel? What thoughts float in and out?
“Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all.”
Robert louis Stevenson