pasted-image-22What is your definition of “Joy”?  The world wants us to believe that joy is an experience or emotion that we briefly capture…one that comes from things, people, opportunities, success or even acceptance. The Webster Dictionary defines “Joy” as : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.

To me, Joy is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a gift of wonder, contentment, and hope. But it is not something you wait on, like a gift to be given…but rather, it is something worth pursuing, ideally on a daily basis. 

I find in this overly busy life that most of us totally miss the opportunities to be joyful…we may be genuinely grateful but still so distracted by our busyness that the joy surrounding our day is fleeting at best. Do not be mistaken…gratefulness and joy are two separate emotions!

Ever watch a small child pick up a rock or watch a lady bug crawl over their hand?  Even the simplest of things like homemade cookies, a shooting star or even a whistle can bring on smiles, giggles and a fit of happy dancing!   

So I ask myself, what has changed? Why is it that the feeling of Joy seems to be so less intense as an adult? So less frequent?  I believe the answer lies in our awareness and our ability to drop what we are doing and be present…in the ordinary, in the simple and, yes, the little things.  Magic exists around us everyday…but if we aren’t looking for it, do we see it? 

There is a great article published by the magazine Bella Grace called “Surprised by Joy”.  In this article the author, Jennifer Clawson Farnese, takes her readers through a 31 day exercise in discovering and being surprised by the joy in life’s small and simple things.  Using an old fashioned calendar, you are encouraged to document each day a simple but surprising moment of joy. 

In the few days since I have begun this journey, I am amazed at how the joy I identified each day seems to stick with me not just for the day, but even days later. Instead of having a fleeting joyful moment I am now recalling these experiences over and over and enjoying the warmth  that comes with them.

I hope that in this busy holiday season you will make time each day…on a walk, in a quiet room, or even standing in line at the grocery store…to stop and look around for Joy.  You will find her hiding right in front of you. 

Sometimes it might be a smell from your childhood, an expression on a toddler’s face, or something as simple as a blue bird feather.  Personally, I relish the colors and textures of nature…puppies that steal kisses when I am in a yoga pose and the smell of my dirty horse barn.

This past week I have collected tokens of these joyous things and written them down in my calendar. Now each day when I go to my special calendar, I see all of these gifts together , like my own advent calendar…gifting and re-gifting their joy over and over again!

Be Well,

Donna Stephens