I Choose… Joy


Contemplating the meaning of life seems to occupy much more of my time than the average bear. It is like a nagging sliver that you can feel, but not see, just below the tip of your finger. It is always there, making you aware of it, but you can’t manage to get a hold of it or make the sensation go away. This contemplation constantly boils down to one thing for me. Life is about joy.

My husband and I were discussing how we miss the old days of good television shows. It started while driving over the Zilwaukee bridge in Michigan, which reminds me of Milwaukee, which reminds me of Laverne and Shirley. Next came mention of Brady Brunch, Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi, which reminds me of child actors and actresses. (Now, you can see how exhausting it is to be me!)

With the subsequent chat about how messed up child celebrities can get after experiencing fame and fortune, I came around to the summation that it is absolutely irrelevant how much money we have, how much stuff we have or how much success we have, in the eyes of others, if we are lacking a sense of joy in our lives and hearts.

Although joy is not an emotion that we can hold at all times, it is one of the deepest desires of my life and my ultimate life goal: to feel joy as much as possible. I have come to the conclusion that all of the hoops we jump through and manage, in order to live out our daily existence, is futile unless we are primarily enjoying the ride. When we boil it down, no matter what path or paths we choose in our lifetime, putting joy as a priority can make the difference between existing and thriving.

There is bad news; however, which regards to joy: it is not something that happens to us. Joy is something that we must create, integrate, choose and notice. Joy is always around us, even in the most difficult life circumstances, but unfortunately, most will not notice it. Most will remain in the suffering, in the pain, in the darkness and in the adversity without being aware or conscious that there is another option.

I keep coming back to the time when my husband spent many days in the hospital. In one particular month, in the middle of various health issues, he spent 18 days in the hospital, broken up into three, 6 day intervals. The hospital became our lives, during that time. I was determined to keep my energy and positive outlook up, to be able to support and encourage him through all of the drama. I knew that this was going to require work.

I made a point of keeping a pair of running shoes, sunglasses, bottles of water and light jacket or sweater in the trunk of my car. Whenever other visitors came to visit or the nurse came in his room to do any tests or procedures I would go out for a walk. I would find the nearest stairwell, head outside to the car, gear up and walk the hub trail with my camera. My goal was to find joy.

I would snap photos of flowers, birds, trees, the sky and anything that was interesting, unique, cute, nice or beautiful. I recall that I ended up with hundreds of photos during that month, even though it was one of the most challenging times in both of our lives. Even if he couldn’t get outside and see nature or outdoors, I could bring it to him and increase my energy, at the same time.

Noticing joy has become a lifestyle for me. I have decided that joy is the most important piece of life’s puzzle. I force myself to notice joy when I am struggling, down or confused about something. I seek joy to have numerous things for my daily list of experiences and items to be appreciative and thankful for.

On my Facebook page I have thousands, upon thousands of photos of things that bring my joy. I have even decided that the next book title, keynote speaking focus, business name and website for my blog, photos, quotes and articles is titled, ‘Notice JOY.’ I am extremely excited about this; stay tuned!

For you, I hope that you can also choose to notice joy, in order to shift your perspective. If you say that there is nothing to be joyful about, then it would appear that your heart has become encased in the cloud and clutter of all of the bad stuff that life has thrown your way. There is another way to wade through life’s daily hills and valleys.

Despite any awful, devastating or difficult circumstances, there is always something to be joyful about. Joy is a habit. Joy is a choice. If you aren’t already, will you start to notice joy more often? You can look around, wherever you are sitting, and notice joy right now. I choose joy; will you?

‘If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment.’ ~ Carlos Santana