With toddlers, consistency can be fleeting. One day, they love chicken. The next time you serve chicken, they hate it and act as if you’re asking them to eat a rat. One night, they sleep through the night. The next, they’re up four times – at first wanting to rock in the chair, then sleep on the floor, then move to the couch and then finally landing in mom and dad’s bed (oh wait, is that just my child?).
But with my daughter, there actually is something that I CAN count on every single day — pure joy when she finds and gets to hold her lovey and monkey. If I want her to smile, all I have to do is find lovey & monkey (she’s usually left it somewhere and doesn’t remember where) and she lights up. You’d think those little 12-inch cloths have magical powers.
Seeing this joy day after day has motivated me to think about what – big or small – brings me joy in my life. Identifying what makes you joyful can spring you into action to pursue those things and enrich your life vs. just living passively. And even just thinking about things that bring me joy makes me happier!
There are two exercises I’m working on and I invite you to join too.
Exercise #1: Simply list things, people and/or situations that bring you joy. These things can be big or small. For example:
A Few Things That Bring Me Joy
- My family & friends
- Greeting cards. I love sending them and receiving them. The knowledge and feeling that someone thought of you is so special.
- Dancing. As I write this, I’m reminded I should seek out some sort of dance class.
- Coffee & wine. These bring me even more joy when I’m enjoying them with others.
- Ceiling fans. Don’t judge: remember, I said it can be small things. But I really love ceiling fans, especially in my bedroom when I’m going to sleep. I don’t have one now – boo hoo. Next-house goal.
- My daughter’s laugh. Especially that belly laugh when it seems like happiness is just exploding out of her and she can’t stop herself from laughing more. And her dance moves … there are some interesting moves in her repertoire.
- Reading a book in bed on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, followed by a nap.
- When one of my group ex students tells me a class has made a difference in her/his life/health.
- My church (Canvas). If I’m honest, this is the first church that I’ve truly wanted to go to each Sunday.
- Playing games. Some of my favorites: Scattegories, Bananagrams, and Catch Phrase. I played a new one the other night that was super fun, too. It’s called Sushi Go.
- Going on walks.
- I love my hometown teams – Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Royals. Watching the Royals win the World Series two years ago was one of the most joyful times of my life. I also just love having a team to cheer for, which is why I’ve become a Golden State Warriors fan the past two years.
- Traveling and exploring the world with my husband.
Exercise #2: Each day, write down a moment of joy from that day. This exercise comes from Sheryl Sandberg’s book Option B. Following the tragic death of her husband, her New Year’s resolution was to write down three moments of joy every day. She says,
“Now nearly every night before I go to sleep, I jot down three happy moments in my notebook. Doing this makes me notice and appreciate these flashes of joy; when something positive happens, I think, This will make the notebook. It’s a habit that brightens the whole day.”
I don’t do this every day but I try to do it as often as possible because I agree with Sheryl. This exercise heightens my awareness to all of the wonderful moments we can have in a day that I otherwise might not pay attention to. I keep mine in a notebook and below are few excerpts.
- June 25: Hadley’s face watching Scott and me take our turns dancing with her stick she found at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. (Background: she’s obsessed with sticks and was dancing with one. Then made us take turns).
- June 27: Sitting in my brown leather chair, cuddled up with a blanket and drinking coffee. (Yes, only in San Francisco would someone be cuddled up with a blanket in June).
- June 28: Hadley waiting so amazingly at the airport for her aunt and cousin to arrive (their plane was stuck on tarmac for about an hour). She was patient, fun and enjoyable.
So, you’ve read this far in the post. Now it’s your turn. What brings you joy? I hope you’ll share in the comments below.