Archive for the ‘How To Start Your Joy Journal’ Category

Photo by Rob Owen-Wahl, courtesy of stock.xchng


From the time I began to talk about my experiences with keeping a Joy Journal, people have asked me, “Why Joy?” and “What is Joy vs. Happiness or Gratitude?”  This Blog post is the third in a four part series sharing some of my thoughts exploring Joy.  


Part 3: Joy vs. Happiness  

Joy and Happiness, while closely related, are different.  For some people, Joy may be your companion on the road to Happiness.  

Joy is simple and surrounds us, but many factors contribute to Happiness.   

Joy is an openness.  It is a willingness to see even the small good things around you — to allow yourself to give them due notice and to allow these things to lift your spirit.  It can be the sound of a 3-minute downpour while you were cozy indoors (or maybe you were out in it and enjoyed the sensation.)  Or ice cold lemonade on a hot day.  Joy can be the warm hug from a child.  Joy is personal, so you may not find these examples particularly Joyful, and I am certain there are things you personally love that aren’t above.  In fact, take a minute to name a few of the small daily things that give you the most Joy.  Do you feel a small boost from thinking about them?  

Happiness is more complex and multi-faceted.  According to Dr. Martin Seligman, considered one of the world’s leading experts on the subject, enduring Happiness is a function of three things: 1) the natural disposition you are born with, 2) the circumstances and events of your life, and 3) factors under your voluntary control such as planning and conscious effort.  The field of Positive Psychology offers a variety of methodologies for achieving greater Happiness, all based on scientific research.  In fact, you can take a course on it at Harvard or get a Master’s degree at University of Pennsylvania.   

Happiness is greatly affected by what happens to you, while Joy is something you carry with you.   

Illness, loss, poverty, heartbreak, and pain are all realities of the world in which we live.  And they can take a tremendous toll on a person’s Happiness.  These circumstances also make it more difficult to allow yourself moments of Joy, but Joy still surrounds us in spite of our fear, challenges or pain.  One of the readers who kept a Joy Journal for a month was a woman who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.  She recorded her daily Joys while she was undergoing treatment.  In her words:  “How many tiny little snippets of wonderful happen in a day!”  Among her larger Joys were the support of friends and family, quality medical care, and the hope of recovery.  But she also recorded her morning cup of tea.  And now when she sees a sunset while driving, she pulls over to enjoy it.  These are moments of Joy that exist no matter what is happening, if you allow them in. 

I wish you many moments of Joy along the road to Happiness, and would love to hear your experiences with Happiness and Joy.  

Joyfully yours,

What is Joy? Part 2: Joy is Being Present

Comments Off on What is Joy? Part 2: Joy is Being Present

Photo by ascom, courtesy of stock.xchng

From the time I began to talk about my experiences with keeping a Joy Journal, people have asked me, “Why Joy?” and “What is Joy vs. Happiness or Gratitude?” This Blog post is the second in a four part series sharing some of my thoughts exploring Joy.

Part 2: Joy is Being in the Present

“The breath, body and heart all live in the present time. Joy lives in the present time. It’s the mind (where our awareness is so easily snagged in past memories and future plans) that rarely stays in the present for more than a few seconds.” — Carolyn Hobbs: Joy No Matter What

Children often understand instinctively how to be fully in the present moment, and being open to Joy. A friend of mine was recently sideswiped in a car accident with her 4 year-old son in the car. Both were thankfully unhurt, but badly shaken up and in shock. As the situation sank in, the son began to cry hysterically with large gasps and sobs. After a few minutes though, he looked up — and his eyes, still wet with tears, lit up – “Mommy, LOOK!” The police lights danced through the car and the sirens filled his ears, and he experienced a moment of pure delight. Later, after he got to wear the officer’s cap while the accident was cleared and the police reports completed, he proclaimed to his mother that this was “the best day EVER.”

I don’t imagine our rational adult brains would allow most of us to be Joyful in the above situation, but it does serve as a reminder that Joy seeps in when we let it – when for a moment we live a little more in our hearts and a little less dominated by our minds.

Dozens of people have kept Joy Journals and shared their experiences with me. Many of them talked about the Joy they experienced from children, seeing the world through their eyes. By choosing to acknowledge the Joy felt, and then recording it, many Joy Journalers found that they reconnected with their own sense of wonder they had when they themselves were children.

Joyfully yours,

What Is Joy? Part 1: Joy is a Choice

Comments Off on What Is Joy? Part 1: Joy is a Choice

Photo by Katia Grimmer-Laversanne courtesy of stck.xchng


From the time I began to talk about my experiences with keeping a Joy Journal, people have asked me, “Why Joy?” and “What is Joy vs. Happiness or Gratitude?”  This Blog post is the first in a four part series sharing some of my thoughts exploring Joy.

Part 1: Joy is a Choice

Joy begins with a choice.  Joy surrounds us.  We must choose to let Joy in.  Too often, we all (myself included) are tempted to blow right past Joy as we lead our busy lives.  And then we miss the moments of Joy!  I might fail to notice, for example, how the morning sun has created a perfect sunbeam.  Moreover, that my cat hasn’t missed it and is currently stretched out on the floor purring and soaking in the sun.  In fact, my cat is offering me her belly for a rub.  But I am late for a meeting, so I don’t stop to feel the sunbeam’s warmth, or pet my cat, or hear her purr…

Instead, I can choose Joy – choose to let it in.  The act of noticing the sunbeam, or the time it takes to bend down to rub the cat’s belly – in fact, these things take only seconds.  But their impact can linger.  They create a little boost in my spirit that can last through the morning.  It might even make that meeting I was racing to a bit more pleasant.  And by then, there is another Joy to let in.  Perhaps an eager hug from a child, or a courteous driver waving me on, a tree in full bloom, a special treat at lunch, or an email that makes me smile.

Joy is a state of mind, or mindfulness.  Above all – it is an openness: to life’s wonderful moments and its treasures, no matter how small or fleeting they may be.  Keeping a Joy Journal is an act of choosing Joy.  It is a conscious choice to be present and open to the Joy.  By stopping to notice the Joy around me and acknowledging it through the act of recording, I find myself more Joyful.

Joyfully yours,

3 Minutes a Day to Feeling More Joy

Comments Off on 3 Minutes a Day to Feeling More Joy
September 10, 2010 · by Brooke · How To Start Your Joy Journal, Joy Is All Around You

Several years ago, I began keeping a “Joy Journal.”  For such a small thing, it has had a pretty big impact on me.  First, it made me more aware of all the Joy already in my life.  It’s hard to miss the big monumental Joys, but what about all the small daily Joys – taking the back roads, getting a bear hug from a child, singing along to your favorite song on the radio, experiencing a good belly laugh… These Joys were experienced and quickly forgotten, or worse – I passed them by at 100 miles an hour and failed to let the Joy in.  After starting my Joy journal, I am more open to experiencing small Joys, and they stay with me longer.  So by recording my Joy, I have in fact become more Joyful! 

You can start your own Joy Journal.  It’s very simple.  All you need is 3 minutes a day.  Grab a notebook, your iPhone/Blackberry, a word or email doc, even a scrap of paper, and write down any little thing that gives you Joy or makes you smile in the day.  It can be tiny, fleeting and/or silly.  Or earth shattering.  But most will be small moments; a brief spark. 

You can do it as things strike you, or you can reflect on the day overall.  But it is important to try to write something for every day. You can write a single word.  You can sketch a doodle.  You can even be grateful your no-good-very-bad-day is finally over.  Just take around 3 minutes each day – less time than the typical TV commercial break.  Try it for just 3 weeks.  It’s a gift for yourself, or for those you love.  If you stick with it, you will experience a difference.  You will feel more Joyful.  And you may even find you spread a little Joy.

Joyfully Yours,
June 8, 2010 · by Brooke · How To Start Your Joy Journal

Today marks the beginning of my blog, 3 Minutes to Joy.  There is something magical about the start of something that you have dreamed about for some time.  There is the openness, hope and promise of where the journey may take you.  And there is also the feeling of accomplishment.  In that moment – the beginning – you commit.  You start.  You turn intentions and dreams into actions.  It doesn’t matter how big or small that first step, now you are doing, experiencing, trying…and living! 

“The distance is nothing; it’s only the first step that is difficult.”
– Madame Marie Anne du Deffand


When I began keeping my Joy Journal in 2006, I had no idea the path upon which I was embarking.  It was an experiment.  An idea I had after a very challenging year.  It was almost New Year’s and I was loath to write resolutions that I knew would be very difficult to live up to, I then would be hard on myself.  Instead, I resolved to focus on a single aspect of my life that would have a wider impact: I would try to live Joyfully.  That would be my gift to myself and also to those I love that had supported me through the challenges I had faced.  I grabbed an old notebook and wrote on the front, “JOY!”  The notebook was actually from a Nextel promotion, and said on the front: “Do you do?”  Now it was complete: “Do you do? JOY!” And in the lower corner, “Nextel. Done.”  Yes, I had done it – I had begun on a path to finding greater Joy.  And in the nearly four years since, I have found that the small Joys have a greater impact on me because I am more aware of them and give them greater focus.  Now the smile they give me endures longer.  And then there are always the few but the glorious sources of big and major Joy, which have been given greater importance by the act of recording them.  All of these Joys fill me with a sense of gratitude, wonder and greater belief in the promise of the next day to come.

This beginning, of, is particularly important to me.  I am looking forward to sharing with you the stories of how a simple act of taking 3 minutes or less each day to record the Joy the day held can really make a difference.  Stories from my own experience, but also experiences from dozens of other people who have kept their own Joy Journals for a period of three weeks or more.  I hope you find these stories, tips and ideas interesting, helpful, or maybe even inspiring.  And should they cause you to initiate your own beginning – that of your own Joy Journal, I sincerely hope you will share your story as well.

Joyfully yours,