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Finding Joy

Happiness seems like something we’re always chasing.

I’ve said I just want to be happy as though I’m not in a current state of happiness. I’ve never thought about it before.

The other day I was listening back through a few podcast episodes from Ted Radio Hour and I came across one called Where Joy Hides. I thought it was interesting to think of joy as being this idea that is hidden, or even maybe personifying the idea and think where does Joy hide and why can’t I find her.

When I try to think through things I personify them – it’s just an easy way for me to work through ideas that are complex. So Joy, she’s something I don’t think about often.

Merriam-Webster says happiness is a state of well-being and contentment and a pleasurable or satisfying experience.

Merriam-Webster says joy is the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.

In Where Joy Hides, they talk about joy and happiness the way you talk about goal setting. Happiness is more long-term and joy is short-term. There is the constant pursuit of happiness, but joy may be found in small steps along the way. So think of joy as happening daily, and happiness being the culmination of those small joys. I also think of happiness as a steady mildness and joy being a burst of strong emotion.

So, if I think about joy in this way – I find her every day.

This week I found her when I followed through on my gym plans.

I had said I wanted to get to the gym at least three times a week and run twice, but this week I lifted four times and ran three. I totaled: 4.5 miles and about 30,000 pounds. It’s been a while since I have had a full week like this because I haven’t prioritized it like I did this week. This is a healthy amount of activity that I enjoy that I also believe fits my schedule and helps me balance out my time at home working and studying. It felt good to do a little more than my baseline and I’m going to plan the upcoming week the same way I planned this past week with an optional lift and an optional run just in case.

So I found joy in my follow through and consistency.

Every night I have found joy when we lay on the floor and play with our cats, James and Sir. In almost six weeks, they’ve adjusted to their room and create a few safe spaces around the house that they go to when they want to be alone. They’ve explore the whole house, some days with great success and some days with a bit fear. They have about 2,000 square feet to explore whereas the shelter (that was a converted house) had shared space with about 20 to 30 cats and volunteers constantly going in and out – so I understand the fear of having so much space too. They allow us to pet them daily, eat out of our hands and are playful. The progress is overwhelming compared to the predictions the shelter had about their behavior after being feral and living in the shelter for over a year.

I find joy in every conversation and problem-solving session with my clients – current and former. I am happy for them as the succeed and conquer, while I find joy in helping them reach their potential.

I find joy in every cup of morning coffee as we talk about our plans and get ready for the day. Picking out paint and curtain rods, turning on the pellet stove and doing laundry in our basement – this feels like home. And home is happy.

I’m not always happy, but that doesn’t mean that I’m sad in those moments. I guess joy may be fleeting, but it can also be easily found – you just need to look for it. Happiness is something to strive for in life, but joy is something to strive for daily.

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