It took me too long to learn where to find joy, but now that I know where it hides, I can find it everywhere.
One of the reasons it took me so long was because its simplicity kept tripping me up. When I finally realized where joy lives, I was actually sort of surprised. I genuinely thought that joy lived on the other side of achieving your goals and dreams for your life, which, for most people in the planet, consists of being rich and famous.
Turns out, joy doesn’t live on the other side of anything. It lives here. In fact, if you can’t feel joy where you are, you won’t feel it when you get your goals together and accomplish your dreams, either.
Joy, I have learned, lives in the simplest of things. In these tiny little moments hidden in a million places throughout the day.
That’s why some people would be a little taken aback; they want joy to be flashier, more glamorous. But the good news about its simplicity is its accessibility; anybody that wants to, can have it, right now.
Joy lives in places that seem silly to the hardened soul. You have to have an open, soft heart to find it, and I think the softer your heart gets, the more easily you’ll see it.
After I realized that joy lives in simple, easy things, I started keeping a list of places to find it, so I wouldn’t get confused again if I ever forgot. I am always on the lookout for new things to add, as I keep discovering joy in more and more places.
Here’s a list of experiences where I’m pretty certain joy likes to hide:
- Getting, unexpectedly, a kiss from your son
- Eating a ripe strawberry in the spring sunshine that you picked yourself
- Watching a child’s spontaneous laughter
- Enjoying an amazing homemade meal with your friends
- September walk among fall leaves while smelling the wet grassland
- Noticing and appreciating flowers as they start to bloom in spring time
- Drinking your favorite hot drink in a buzzing coffee shop in your favorite part of town
- Curling up with your favorite book on your veranda, while hearing the birds singing.
See what all this stuff has in common?
It’s all really simple, affordable stuff. It’s actually kind of…every day. And if this list didn’t exactly sweep you off your feet, I don’t blame you. It’s taken me a long time to connect to these easy, almost cliché things as actual pathways to joy. All I can say is this: Don’t resist. Joy lives in the simple things, and we tend to brush past simple things all the time in our busy modern lives.
My most authentic and enjoyable moments of joy usually come from three places: people, nature, and food. Oh yeah, and one more: writing. Writing is a real source of joy, too. So I guess a good word to sum up where joy comes from is “creation”—in every sense of the word.
Maybe you don’t buy it. Maybe your experience is that joy actually lives in cool, big moments like getting a new job, or getting your first kiss from your dreamed partner, or getting away to an exotic trip. And that’s awesome—let yourself feel the excitement of those things. But I’d be hesitant to limit myself to thinking that joy primarily lives in that big, shiny stuff, because that’s not everyday life for most of us. That adrenaline rush, that euphoric high of a new and exciting adventure— yeah, it’s awesome, but not exactly the same as joy.
When I was young, every once in a great while we’d get to a short trip, I lived for those days. Or my birthday? Highlight of the year. And that’s totally cool; I’m glad I had fun and exciting events in my young life, but there were a lot of other cool sources of joy in between those big events that I didn’t even consider until later.
Now I know better, and it’s made all the difference. There is joy to be found in all sorts of places throughout my day, and I serve myself well by honoring and recognizing them instead of diminishing them because they don’t release buckets of endorphins all at once.
A good life is one that’s full of precious, tiny moments, all day long. That still blows my mind.
Start looking for these moments. Find your thing. Be on the lookout every day for small, simple moments of joy. Start keeping a list in your journal or on your phone of what makes you happy, even if it’s these little, simple things at first—you’ll get the hang of it. Take the time to notice the pretty coffee art in your cappuccino mug and let your senses experience that first sip for all the wonder it contains. Open your blinds slowly, with intention, and soak in the sunlight for a second or two each morning. If it’s raining, close your eyes and savor the sound of the drops. Don’t write this stuff off! It is seriously these little moments of noticing that have made my life exponentially more joyful rather than the big successes and strides.
There is more than enough joy to go around. Joy self-multiplies, so be selfish and lean into joy.
Take as much as you want.