Making Time for Joy

2015 September 23
by Grace Boyle

I grew up with the phrase (over and over): life is bliss. 

When you think of the things you’re told growing up, this isn’t bad, right?

It was mundane to me though, at first. I don’t think I really knew what it meant until I left home thousands of miles away, for college when I was 18 and you can step away from what you grew up with (potentially your own bubble) and get context.

It was the first real step where I did something for myself, where no one else influenced my decision and I went with my gut on making the move from Iowa to Burlington, Vermont and really, following what felt joyful.

During those four years I acknowledge I had the privilege to make mistakes, make lifelong friendships, travel, live and study abroad, work hard, figure out what made me tick, and chase the joy. From then, I was hooked. I made a promise to myself that no matter what happened, I would keep working and coming back to find that joy and bliss.

dance off

On the flip side, there is work to be done daily to keep reemerging to find joy.

I stumbled across Erykah Badu’s essay on making time for joy in your life, and she shares that joy can easily be pulled from us, with the natural challenges of life:

There’s this natural instinct we have as human beings. Regardless of our position, religion, color or kind, we all have a primal desire for immediate, and almost unwavering, JOY. Eventually, through the experience of events and circumstance, we learn that this desire just may be unreasonable and unnatural. We watch our emotions sway as we are affected and influenced by the energy around us. Our own resistance to “unpleasantness” restricts our movement.

It’s extremely easy to get overshadowed by the doldrums of life. For that reason, I try to really integrate “self care” into my week. I know that I can only be my best self, be heads down, prepared for the challenges that undoubtedly face us – if I’m taking care of myself and subsequently making time for joy. It’s like a daily reminder, and something I think everyone can partake in.

What’s so special about joy is that it’s in the eye of the beholder (I love learning about what brings people joy) and it’s often in the little things that perhaps have no cost associated to them, and are at our fingertips everyday.

For me joy comes in many forms. It’s being out in nature, in the mountains and finding true stillness, kisses and cuddles from my dogs, pushing the limit physically on my yoga mat, on a big hike, or at Crossfit when I’ve surpassed a challenge I didn’t think I could do and running off those endorphins, shared belly-clutching laughter, uninterrupted time to read, a sunset, booking an adventure (whether it’s local for a weekend trip or far away by plane), eye contact, being honest with myself and others, quality time with my honey, catching a fish on the fly on a roaring river in the mountains with him, hard work paid off, happy hour in the late afternoon sun on a patio, feeling whatever it is I’m feeling (just being true), an delicious meal, a farm dinner, a fully stocked fridge and empty dishwasher, opening a bottle of wine you’ve been saving to celebrate (celebrate more!), eight or more hours of sleep, not having to rush wherever it is I’m going, giving back, and finding peace with whatever it is, that I’m doing.

Sunday is my day of rest. It’s typically when I start looking ahead at the week, formulating what I need to do to stay on track, but also where I’ve allocated time for joy (perhaps coming off the weekend where I made that happen). I encourage you to pick a day where you can reflect on the little things you’ve done for yourself, your loved ones, your family, for joy.

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