Posts Tagged ‘Living Joyfully’

September 22, 2010 · by Brooke · Joy Is All Around You, What is Joy?

Photo by h_ssan, courtesy of flickr

 

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 is the final post in a four part series sharing some of my thoughts exploring Joy. 

Part 4: Joy Lives in the Heart, Not the Mind  

“Joy is the feeling of grinning on the inside.” – Dr. Melba Colgrove 

Joy is a spark that begins, completely unconsciously, when your heart (not your mind) is open to it.  One of my recent Joys was also an example of this when a friend invited me to the Whitney Museum to see the Charles Burchfield exhibit, an artist whose work I was not familiar with.  The paintings are truly something to behold.  However, it is Burchfield’s journal quotes that really struck me, as they capture his ability to find Joy in the everyday world surrounding him:  

 “Listen long to the singing of the telephone poles.  It sounds more weird and beautiful by moonlight…Each pole has a distinct tone.  A steady throbbing sound – the poles, once trees, still are full of life, which is expressed in this pulsating sound.  Seems a voice from the center of the earth.” 

— Charles Burchfield’s journals, Salem, OH.  August 4, 1914
Whitney Museum plaque: Song of the Telegraph, 1917-52

 

What an exclamation of Joy!  And he beautifully demonstrates that Joy is not something that initiates in your mind; it begins somewhere in your heart.  It is hard to imagine Burchfield consciously thinking that the hum of the telegraph wires would give him Joy.  Rather, his heart was open to finding Joy in the small things that made up his daily life — Suddenly he was struck by the aliveness of the sound.  Many other sensations such as Happiness or Gratitude, while often felt in the heart as well, can begin with the mind.  But Joy is usually not a conscious decision.  Often, part of the delight of Joy is that it is unexpected.  Joy is a spark that may or may not be easily explained, but begins when you are open to experiencing it. 

Burchfield also found Joy during a time he was suffering from a prolonged and severe illness, thereby reiterating a point made in What is Joy: Part 3 — you can experience moments of Joy, even when significant life events mean that you are not experiencing Happiness: 

“I must tell you about ‘my’ oak leaf – in my neighbor’s yard.  The yard had been raked clean of leaves, but later on, somehow this oak leaf got attached to something in the grass, so that it stands upright, and repeated gales and snow storms have failed to dislodge it.  It bends over with the wind and when it is calm again, there it is, standing up so pert and imp-like…” 

“…For me it has become a sort of symbol or example – as it clings on so stubbornly, so must I ‘hang on’ through this illness which has lasted so long.  I have moments of utter despair, and then I look out and see this little oak-leaf, my little friend.  Each morning I look for it and it is always there.” 

 — Letter from Charles to John I. H. Baur, January 7, 1957
Whitney Museum plaque: The Constant Leaf (The Steadfast Leaf), 1960

 

In the first paragraph, Burchfield expresses his sense of Joy – a pure and simple delight in the unexpected discovery of a lone leaf.  This sensation of Joy is not conscious and comes from his heart, not his mind.  In the second paragraph, Burchfield’s Joy spreads to a sensation in his heart and his mind — one of Gratitude or Happiness for each new day that he saw the leaf because it represented another day he had survived his illness.  

Frequently Joy leads to Gratitude or Happiness.  As one woman who kept a Joy Journal remarked, “Observing your Joy can create a general sense of Gratitude.“  By being present and experiencing to a greater degree the Joy that generally surrounds one, many Joy Journalers feel more thankful about the good things in their lives.   

Joyfully yours,
Brooke

  

 Images from the show are on view at the Whitney Museum website and also via a slide show from The New Yorker.  

And my Gratitude to the curator who pored over Burchfield’s 10,000 journal pages to share with us these quotes.  Reading them gave my heart great Joy.

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,
Brooke

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,
Brooke
September 12, 2010 · by Brooke · Inspiration, Joy Stories, What is Joy?

 

One of the remarkable women who received my invitation start her own Joy Journal found herself wrestling with the concept of small joys. A highly capable, intelligent, no-nonsense businesswoman in the healthcare industry, to her initially, Joy meant something monumental – like the birth of a child or a wedding.  But the concept of Joy captured her interest and she decided to explore the places in her everyday life where Joy might also be found.  I absolutely adore the piece she wrote about A Joyful Sneeze and she agreed to let me share it with all of you.  Wishing you Joy and laughter in any size and form!

A Joyful Sneeze:

What I find joyful is a good sneeze…the kind of sneeze you really wind up for.  The kind of sneeze only allowed when by yourself, well outside the earshot of anyone who could say, “Good gracious, that sounds like missile launch!”  It’s not the kind of sneeze proceeded by rapid fire follow ups.  Nor is it a wet and messy affair.  Or worse than that, its not one which seduces you into thinking this-is-really-going-to-be-a-good-one, only to have this disappointing little oink squeak out!  No, the kind of sneeze I am talking about is a singular event which starts with the faintest little tickle at the back of one nostril… quickly fading away.  There it is again…tickle, tickle, tickle.  Ah ha!  Now you know you’re onto something. Careful, don’t jump the gun.  Here it comes!!! ah-ah-ah-ah- ah-chew!!!

Now THAT was as fine a sneeze as I have had in a long time.  Satisfaction.

May you find Joys in the huge and the tiny things.

Joyfully yours,
Brooke
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,
Brooke