I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for some time now being that so many of us are feeling anything but joy lately. I know personally, my emotions have been one big roller coaster ride more than ever during these last two years, and with good reason. Without restaurants to go to, the ability to have friends over, canceled vacations, the uneasiness of maneuvering through life doing simple things as running errands, and economic uncertainties, it’s only natural that the pandemic years have most of us feeling every negative emotion in the book. Having been in this draggy state of isolation for so long a period, it’s easy to lose our joy. However, the power of choosing joy despite difficulties is possible to those who pay attention.
…the power of choosing joy despite difficulties is possible to those who pay attention.
It’s easy to have the knowledge and readily talk about how the small things in life are important to enjoy, which is well and good, but this seems to somehow slip our awareness in actuality. So how then can intentionally noticing those small pleasures actually help us? To appreciate the true value of those small things, we first have to recognize how they contribute to our lives. Therein lies the enriching value of knowledge.
Which is why I thought I’d share a glimpse of what I do to find joy despite trials. And I’m not talking about the forced kind of joy through gritted teeth or attaining material things in the hope of feeling better; it’s something a lot more profound than that.
First, though, I’d like to quickly delve a little bit into what the face of genuine joy is and what it is not. Solely because we live in a society that puts greater importance on working ourselves to death to “attain success in order to find joy and happiness.” But for us to find ways to remain joyful in spite of adversities, it’s important to understand what genuine joy means and what we can do to maintain it and even add to it.
Joy is defined as a deep-seated quality of the heart. It has been described as the emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good. Joy is a state of happiness or gladness that remains whether the conditions around us are pleasant or not. In fact, a person can be disturbed about circumstances around him but still have joy in his heart. Hence, the state of joyfulness is not a matter of simply being jovial or cheerful or the kind of momentary joy that is found in buying a new item (aka ‘retail therapy’). Much like a drunkard after too many drinks may be in a hilarious mood. However, when he sobers up, he laughs no more, and he may return to a life full of sorrow and troubles. His momentary exuberance was not true joy.
You see, we’re not born with joy; nor does it develop automatically. It is one of those qualities like compassion, empathy, and kindness we need to develop.
You see, we’re not born with joy; nor does it develop automatically. It is one of those qualities like compassion, empathy, and kindness we need to develop. And when we do develop joy, we are better able to cope with the stresses of life. Now you can understand why at the outset, I mentioned that I’m referring to a more profound type of joy. The kind that has its roots much deeper than in a mere spasm of giddiness or in a momentary state of being full of noisy laughter.
In other words, I’m speaking of the quality of joy that requires a mental shift – a level of mindfulness if you will. Using the power of our mind to shift from focusing only on the things that we no longer have or are able to enjoy and honing in on the things we do have and can enjoy! By not becoming overly concerned when things do not work out as we had expected, we can focus on the good things we have now and wait patiently for the better things ahead. When we stop chasing the world’s definition of joy, we begin to recognize the decision to experience joy in spite of obstacles has been right in front of us all along.
When we stop chasing the world’s definition of joy, we begin to recognize the decision to experience joy in spite of obstacles has been right in front of us all along.
As cliché as that may sound, (because believe me, it does, especially when you’re caught in the thick dark cloud of despair and deep agony), nevertheless, I always remind myself in such moments that the mind is a powerful machine and for me to aid it to function properly to my benefit. Research has shown that habits are made up of three parts: a trigger, a routine and a reward. The trigger tells your brain to act. The routine is what you do, and the reward is the end result that satisfies the initial craving.
Sure, I know it’s not easy when one’s ridden with anxiety. And it’s also completely okay to mourn for what we wanted to have happened or what we thought would happen. And it’s okay to miss those things we used to freely enjoy, but it’s just as important to accept things as they really are now and allow yourself to slowly come to a place of peace. This is where we aid our powerful mind by creating some healthy habits to remove the negative distractions.
Intentionally finding these moments of joy that brings us delight during our daily life creates the routine to remind ourselves to be present, rooting our focus in the now rather than losing oneself in worries.
For instance, on days the circumstances surrounding us make me feel low and sad, I remind myself to choose joy! It’s true the times in which we live are in a very unhappy state of affairs, to say the least. Even so, if we were to dwell on all our afflictions in this life, all our days would appear bad. But like good medicine, joy can help us to cope even during these challenging times. It’s worth our every effort to conscientiously do our best to develop a routine to help rid our mind of bad thoughts and to recenter by carving out five minutes in our day to make a list of joyful things in our daily life no matter how small. Intentionally finding these moments of joy that brings us delight during our daily life creates the routine to remind ourselves to be present, rooting our focus in the now rather than losing oneself in worries.
I like what Andy Warhol said: “You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.”
How true this can be! I have always found such pleasure in creating beauty in the ordinary everyday things. It’s a natural wonder when you intentionally pay attention to all the tiny (most of the times unnoticeable) little pleasures all around us, we begin to experience both peace and joy with minimal cost or effort.
Becoming aware of these seemingly little things in life helps me to cope better in my sorrows and helps expand my awareness to so much more that had completely escaped my notice before. It’s one of those mindfulness practices that often provides balance. Channeling my attention to be in the present moment and all that it entails helps me to find such solace in relishing in the simple, modest moments of tiny pleasures.
Rebecca Hart is an interior designer and lifestyle coach who has collaborated with Azizi Life to design her own collection. She’s a New Yorker who grew up in the suburbs of Long Island and is currently living out on the west coast with her husband. She has been passionate about creating a beautiful environment ever since she was a child because it was how she found solace and mental peace in an abusive childhood environment. That experience has motivated her to want to help everyone else to create transformative spaces that enhance well-being through an intentional and a conscious approach that is aligned to the individual(s) living in them. Rebecca approaches both life and work with honesty, sincerity, and compassion. She considers herself an old soul living in the wrong era, which manifests itself in her love for incorporating vintage objects and antique pieces (every chance she gets) in her designs, in a way that breathes life and adds a layer of depth in any space.
Rebecca doesn’t believe that one has to be rich to live beautifully. That’s why today, she empowers others through coaching on how to optimize their life and create a beautiful lifestyle that makes them happy from the inside.
Save 10% on your Azizi Life order by using her promo code REBECCA10