Want to feel more joy during the holiday? Me too.

Want to feel more joy during the holiday? Me too.

It is that time of the year where all of us feel that end-of-the-year-end crunch.   Are you?  I am.  Sure, I enjoy the festive holiday season.  And I am really looking forward to time off work.  So many of us crave time to just relax.  But even then, something is missing.

I’m talking about the real stuff of joy people! Not the fake joy we see on TV.  We want to feel that little shiver of bliss – the feeling you get when you feel a tingle in your heart of pure delight.

Who doesn’t want to feel joy?   At this time of year, images and scenes of joyful people are piped into our digital worlds.  The world is screaming, “Be joyful dammit.”  But somehow, the holidays don’t always lend themselves to feeling joy.  We might be more of an observer of joy than feeling it ourselves.

But here is what I have learned.  Joy is more accessible to me than I ever thought.   And, more importantly, you don’t have to create a 3 or 6 or 12-month plan to build joy.  You can start to have joy in your life now.

The mission I’ve been on for the past year has been to rediscover the beauty that is all around us in this world – and particularly the joy.  And I’m not willing to wait. How am I doing that?

I am doing one simple thing.

I am paying attention to the moment I am in especially it’s a moment I enJOY.  In fact, I am paying close attention.

Let me give you an example.   One evening last week, as my daughter and I were driving home from her school, she started to sing the 12 days of Christmas.   I had no idea she knew the song but at that moment I chimed in and we sang it together.  For about 5 minutes, our normally run-of-the-mill drive home was closer to magical.   A few years ago, I might have missed that moment focusing instead on the drive home.   But for those five minutes I paid close attention.  I noticed it was a moment of joy.  I saw the look of thrill on her face as we sang together.  And I allowed myself to feel that bliss too.

I have even found joy in the most unexpected moments.  A few nights ago, I had a skype call with my mom and my sister.  My mother is in the hospital starting chemotherapy for cancer.  Her first day of chemo basically sucked and the two of them had a frustrating day dealing with delay after delay in the hospital.  The call could have easily been a commiseration session.  But somehow it became a session of laughter.  We talked how cute my mom looked with no hair.  We laughed about how my sister’s entire role was to remind hospital staff of my mom’s needs.  At one moment, we decided to have a virtual hug and my mom decided to hug the computer nearly knocking to the floor.  During our visual hug, all I could see was her armpit.  But she embraced me over Skype, I noticed at that moment the feeling of joy and felt it.  Even now, I am smiling as I write this.

These moments of joy (let’s call them mini-joys) are around us every day.  They can happen when we connect with a friend – or sometimes even a stranger. They happen when we take that moment to notice the beauty of a sunset.  They happen when we connect to our kids at the most unpredictable moments.

What I have learned (and this is quite important for the mother of a 4 year old) is that rather than focus on those signature moments like Christmas morning, I allow the moments to emerge. And then, once they emerge, I noticed and participate in them fully.  My joys are little in size but surprisingly powerful in impact.

So my holiday advice is to slow down just enough to pay attention.  Notice those moments when you feel a little lift.  When you genuinely connect to another person and feel lighter and happier. When you notice a beautiful sunset and soak in its splendor. When you sit down in the middle of shopping to truly enjoy your favorite hot drink and think about nothing.  When you cuddle with your pet.   And be sure to pay attention at the least predictable moments when your kid tells you something that makes you laugh or smile.

These mini-joys are defined entirely by you but it starts with you paying attention.  Once you do this, you will start to see there is more joy in your life than you ever imagined.



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