I have done a lot of thinking about “expressing joy.” In Brene Brown’s Power of Vulnerability (which I feel I need to give a second listen to), she speaks of expressing JOY and the fulfillment of happiness this brings. She speaks of a story of a man who lives his entire life like everything is just ok, not really getting overly excited or enthused about much. Then one day his wife of 25 years passes away, and he is regretful of never truly expressing the joy he had all of these years of life with her. From the day on, this man vowed to actively express joy every single day. I may have paraphrased that story a bit, but the lesson is conclusive:
Actively express joy for everything in life, big or small.
It is easier said than done mostly because life is so distracting and sometimes we do not truly see a moment as an opportunity for joy, rather, we may just see it as just another ordinary moment.
If you are anything like me, vacations or promotions were always things I was appreciative and grateful for but did not necessarily induce excitement. Perhaps it is due to a modest upbringing or not wanting to come off as arrogant or haughty, but the converse of not expressing joy, is just as poor… We SHOULD be excited and be joyous for these small pleasures in life.
This thoughts has then led to my attempt in better defining “joy,” and also finding a way to intentionally express it every single day.
First, my definition of “joy” is essentially gratitude + excitement.
Gratitude is the expression of things in life that we are appreciative and thankful for but does not necessarily induce that explosive expression of how I (at least) visualize “joy.” The visual that comes to mind when I think of joy is then sun shining, beaming on my back as I skip through a field of daisies, wearing a great big grin. That is the visual I need to live up to in my mind.
So, in order to have that visual come closer to life, the second piece of this definition is then excitement! This is an action we prompt have to prompt for ourselves. We can choose to be excited about those moments in life we are grateful for. Ever hear the old saying, “Act enthusiastic and you’ll be enthusiastic”? It might be a motto you may hear at a Dale Carnegie Public Speaking workshop, but nonetheless, whether in public speaking, business or in life, we act the way we want to feel, more simply. I believe this intentional expression of excitement paired with this appreciation for moments big and small, helps us to feel JOY.
As a matter of practice, every day I do express gratitude but to further express joy, this morning I ask myself a simple question:
What am I excited for today?
Now, for the record, today is an ordinary working money, I do not have anything particularly unique going on, yet still I found moments to be excited about.
- Excited to go to work.
- Excited to finish my tasks for my project.
- Excited to talk to partner about his day later.
- Excited to go to the gym.
- Excited to have dinner with my family.
- Excited to read my book.
- Excited to have my bean soup for lunch.
It sounds silly but we deserve to be joyous about all facets of life. Otherwise, why bother waking up, right?
Answer this question for yourself today and feel your mood change. I promise. That is joy.