There are two different emotions that I have been thinking a lot about in my life lately. One is being "happy" and the other is experiencing "joy." I find that for me personally the two are different. They may very well be the same for other people. Perhaps a better word for "happy" might even be "content." Yes, that rings more true to me in this conversation I'm starting here.
I have always had an easy time finding happiness and contentment. When I was younger a friend had a joke with me that I would be able to find something to be happy about in hell because that's just who I am. I am against wasting any time being grumpy or sad if at all possible. So it's easy for me to find contentment in my life, with people I love, in my home, etc. However, joy is something different and I do believe that my ability to be easily contented and happy can often overshadow my joy and even keep me from it. Being content and seeking and experiencing joy are two very different things. Contentment is about being comfortable. Joy is about seeking higher things, doing things that invigorate the body and soul.
I need more joy in my life right now. I am very busy and have a huge amount of responsibility on my shoulders, big changes in my life and a to do list that is very long of pretty important tasks. I am still sick, although I have been told this too shall pass by a trained medical professional. I know my immune is worn out right now, with good reason, but I am really trying to pump it up. Circumstances are not ideal for experiencing a lot of joy. And yet...AND YET...I know it's my decision, my use of time, my priorities that determine if I'm living joyfully or just comfortably fine enough.
I have been doing a few things that are bringing me joy. Here they are:
1) Simplifying the home. Clearing out clutter, making it all feel roomier and easier to organize. My living room already feels more spacious, now that we took down the art area that is now too small for The Bug. She's even outgrown our darling little art table that I upcycled in 2010.
2) A morning ritual. A little inspiration first thing in the day makes a world of difference. I'm starting a gratitude journal again this week too. Trying to keep my eye on the good things of life.
3) Exercise. I've been much more diligent the past few months and it's been a plus in every way from the way I feel to how I look. This has suffered a bit since I got sick.
4) Connecting more with friends. It's great to spend time with friends. I always learning something new and inspiring from our conversations. Plus it's always something nice to look forward to.
5) Spending time outside, even when it's been very cold here lately. It's hilarious and very strange to pass by everyone here bundled up in winter coats and scarves. And we wimpy Californians aren't even exaggerating, it actually really is in the 30-50s here right now. I keep forgetting to bring The Bug's gloves with us for the morning walk to school. So not a part of my California life. Walking to school and back is a nice breath of fresh air. I'm trying to walk more in the neighborhood. It makes so much more sense but requires a little more preparation to get out the door in time to actually make the walk.
Here are a few things I want to be doing more of:
1) Going to inspiring places. There are so many inspiring shops, museums and things to do here in my fair city. I need to get out and do more of them even if it's for just a few minutes once a week.
2) Simplify. I am still doing too many things, own too much stuff, am going in too many directions. But I know that every time I lighten my load I feel more free and calm. These are things I want more of.
3) Service for others. I know when I do things for other people I am blessed. I already do a lot for the people here at home, but I would like to reach out that front door a little more.
4) Waste less time. I know there are still lots of small ways I use my time better. Efficient use of time is one of the best ways to make room for more joy in life.
Do you find yourself caught somewhere between content and joyful? How do you approach this in your own life. I'd love some suggestions from you, dear readers. What else can we do to bring joy into our lives? Please give me and other readers some ideas in the comments below.