I always pick a touchstone word or phrase for the new year, one that reflects my wishes, hopes, dreams, and yes, resolutions for that year. This year my touchstone is JOY, NOW.
Usually, I find, if I take everything I think I want the year to bring and examine them carefully, I'll find a common denominator. And it's almost always the same. Everything we want, we want because we think we'll feel better for having it. I dare you to think of one thing you want that you don't think will make you feel happier? So at the heart of all our wishes and goals, is that. Feeling better. Even if we feel really great to begin with, we can always feel better.
I feel really good almost all the time, but I tend to work a lot and be in a hurry a lot, and feel pressured a lot. On New Year's Eve day, as I was working, I was inspired to put on some music. My husband has become the new caretaker of his late step-grandpa's music collection. He doesn't have all of it home, yet. There are well over 1000 albums. But he brought the first few dozen home and has been digitizing them. One of the collections is John Denver.
I grew up on John Denver, and I find his music spiritual, soothing, uplifting, and joy-inducing. So I put on the John Denver collection while I worked. As the songs played, and my words filled the screen, I kept pausing and looking inward and feeling this sense of bliss just wash through me. And that's when my them for the year revealed itself to me.
In the beginning, it wasn't so brief. It was more like, "Milk every moment of time for all the joy I can." And then I thought on that a bit more, and changed it to, "MAKE every moment joyful." I like the second version better because it puts the power in my own hands. I'm not just squeezing existing joy out of random moments. I'm the one making the joy either by finding existing joy in each experience or adding my own joyful touched to it. Usually both.
Then I decided "Make every moment joyful" was a bit too long, and shortened it to "Joy, now." Because it's not a thought, "This will happen and I'll be happy, and then this will happen and make me happier." It's all about now, the present moment, the only time that ever truly exists--because the past is gone and the future has not come and who can guarantee it even ill? But this moment, this one right now (and now, and now, and now) is real, and it's here and it's the only one we have.
I don't want to feel joy later, I want to experience joy in every moment of my life, and so that means I must always find joy in the now.
JOY, NOW, BUT HOW?
It's not as hard as people make it out to be, it really isn't. I can feel joyful during any task or experience. One of the ways is to put on music and dance my way through that task. Another way is to have a phone call (on speaker) with somebody I thoroughly enjoy. Another is to burn my favorite incense and light candles. Another is to add some magic to whatever I'm doing, add a little mysticism, a little spirituality, a little spell. I might have an audiobook or a favorite documentary playing. I might sing or whistle or hum. I might focus on doing the most spectacular job ever on whatever task I'm about, and beam in satisfaction when it's done. There are dozens of ways to add joy to any moment of any day. Put on thick, cushy socks or warm, cozy sweats, or soft, comfy jammies for a given task. Everything's better in jammies. Oh, line up my favorite chocolates and intermittently enjoy one to make the task more pleasant. Or sip a freshly brewed cup of coffee while doing the task.
Pause and look around and feel and experience. There's always joy just waiting to be discovered. We just tend to look past it in our rush to get stuff done.
I'll make an artful poster of my touchstone phrase for 2023, and hang copies of it in the places where I spend the most time and will see those words often. JOY, NOW. And I'll write it in large block letters on every weekly page of my 2023 planner. JOY, NOW. Whenever I see or think those words, they will remind me to notice all the joyous little miracles that are constantly bouncing around me (and all of us) trying to get my (our) attention. I won't take as many of them for granted this year. I'll try to notice and appreciate every single one of them.
Even if it's toilet cleaning day, I will experience joy! There's just too much joy around us to ignore.
No matter how bad you might think things are, I promise you, there are always 1000 joyful miracles around you. We just get into a state where they become invisible to us. Let's not let that happen. Notice those joy-bits. Relish them. Make notes of them. Give thanks to them. Tell your friends about them. Post about them. Tweet about them if you're still doing that.
I know some who feel they can't think of a single thing to be joyful about. So let me suggest some.
You're alive. Your miraculous body is functioning. Your powerful heart is beating and your lungs are breathing. Your blood is circulating, your skin protecting you, your bones supporting you, your organs running your body like a finely tuned machine. Maybe not every part of your body is working perfectly but there is one thing you can know for sure. You have purpose or you would already be gone. There is a reason for you to be here.
Here are some more joy-bites. The earth is alive, and the sun came up this morning, and it will come up again tomorrow morning. There are planets and stars lighting the night sky. The sun is still working just fine. The moon, omygosh, the moon is such a source of joy, from its first slender crescent to its full glowing beauty. Thunderstorms and snowstorms and rain on a tin roof are reasons for joy. Sunrises and sunsets. A dog or kitty companion's silken soft coat beneath your hand. I get a rush of joy from walking barefoot through patches of tiny, springy clover in the spring.
That first cup of coffee in the morning. A piece of dark salted chocolate with caramel. The fact that every morning when we wake, it's a chance for a brand new beginning. Every single morning we can be born anew.
Do you have ways to make mundane tasks joyful? Share your secrets in comments.