by Anjana Deshpande
Joy likes to nestle between contentment and acceptance. It waits in the corner of our mundane, everyday life, waiting to be invited. Unlike happiness, which demands pursuit, joy simply is. Why then, do we complain about a “lack” of joy in our lives? Why do we go in search of it, or say that “joy has left” our life? Chances are, joy hasn’t left us; we just forgot it was there.
This month, let us try some ways to consciously invite joy into our lives. Here are some steps to do that:
1. Create a Joy Map.
A joy map is fun to do! There are no rules, just some suggestions to make it satisfying and meaningful. Take a sheet of paper and draw a circle in the center of the sheet. Put the word “joy” in the circle and draw lines radiating from this circle. Each line will connect to another circle which contains the word, activity, person, event that brings you joy. Think about times when you were content, relaxed and really “in the moment”. Perhaps you were taking a walk, reading a book, or maybe even doing laundry! It does not matter. If it brought you joy and contentment, it goes on the map.
Next, think of things that you would like to do. Even if they don’t exist in your life right now. Just putting them on paper opens the door to the possibility of making them happen.You may choose to use different markers for different groups of activities. For example, if traveling brings you joy, use different colors for places that are nearby, and easily accessible and places that are far away and might need some planning to get to.
You can even tear up pictures that ‘speak’ to you and place them on this map. This is actually a great “detective” exercise to get to know yourself better. When you ponder over why you picked a particular picture, you are really investigating the deeper recesses of your mind that you normally don’t have time to go into.
So go ahead, create a “joy map”! This is different from a vision board which is more about goals and dreams. A joy map is about the things that are within your reach right now, and perhaps some which you may have to stretch a little to reach.
Learn more about mind mapping at http://www.studygs.net/mapping/buzanmap.htm
2. A No Pressure Date: In her book “The Artist’s Way” Julia Cameron talks about taking yourself out on a date. The budget is about $5 (yes, you are a really cheap date). Where would you go? A dollar store? The mall? A museum? The park? Coffee? I invite you to take joy out on a “no pressure, let’s just get to know each other date” and see what happens! This “date” can also be used as a reward for yourself. A way to acknowledge what you have done during the day or week or even month. So go ahead, celebrate yourself, and take yourself some place nice!
3. Bring joy to someone else: If you have ever smiled back at someone enjoying themselves, if their joy was contagious and you shared in it, then this one is for you. How about sharing something you do well or enjoy doing with someone else?
On that note, wishing you a Joyful June from all of us at the Resiliency Center!