Seeking Joy to Fix What Ails Us
Updated: Feb 19
If you are like me, you have probably reached a point of pure exhaustion with all that is going on in the world. From the political insanity south of our Canadian border that appears to have now leaked over the 49th parallel, to the havoc mother nature has punished our lands with, and the ravage and uncertainty of the pandemic we have been bombarded with crises that are seemingly insurmountable in their size and complexity. If we dig deeper, we find threats of war, the banning of books, and an increase in religious and racial persecution. It is all a little too much to process and absorb.
Despite all that is wrong in the world, the sun rises every morning and sets every evening.
I, along with many I have spoken with have stopped watching the news. When exposed to media coverage it feels like the end of times. Good news is near impossible to find, and bad news is pushed on us like a drug. The theory is that “bad news sells.” Really? Well, it ain’t sellin’ to me anymore! I am now also selective in what I read and limit my news reading to an hour or so in the morning only. I made the choice to start cocooning myself from the onslaught, and funny thing, as soon as I did, I started to feel better. Despite all that is wrong in the world, the sun rises every morning and sets every evening. Quite often these daily events are glorious occurrences that leave you feeling renewed and hopeful. And if we pay attention and seek moments like these, we are much more likely to find and benefit from them.
A few years ago, I took up painting as a hobby. I have found it to be one of the most therapeutic endeavors I have ever pursued. I completely lose myself while painting. I am self-taught and have been quite rigid about NOT taking lessons, reading books, or watching videos about how to paint. There is incredible freedom painting in a way that is natural to me that is difficult to find in most areas of life. No rules, no boundaries, no judgment.
I was working on a painting recently. It was a sunny day, and a ray of light was shining through my window. Although a cold day, the window was open. I had music turned up loudish and my loyal pug Bowie was sleeping at my feet. I was feeling very pleased with the progress I was making on the painting. A song came on that reminded me of New Year’s Eve in Hawaii. I leaned back in my chair to examine my painting, and a feeling of pure bliss washed over me. It was so intense I choked up and a tear rolled down my cheek.
The last two years have not been easy for me. My daughters and mother have alienated me and have left a huge hole in my heart, life, and time. It has been tremendously difficult to adjust to and live with. One of the things that have helped me get through this difficult time is to focus on the things I am grateful for. It has not always been easy. Despite having many things I feel extremely lucky about, the dark hole remains. But in that moment in my office, it was the first time in two years that while in my home I completely forgot about the troubles with my daughters and mother, and the feeling of grateful overwhelmed.
I felt so damned lucky to be in my office that I love, doing something I love doing, in a house I love, in a neighbourhood I love, with the love of my life working in the room beside me, and the dog I have always wanted sleeping at my feet.
We say we love coffee, but how often do we stop in the morning to smell it brewing?
At that moment my life was perfect. I made a point of taking it in. I inhaled deeply, sat back, and enjoyed the song until its end. There are few times in my life that I recall feeling as content as I did at that moment. And it made me realize that is the secret sauce to life. We all have these moments. Many of them. But we don’t slow down enough to notice and appreciate them. Or we overlook the routine as boring, instead of appreciating it as a privilege. We say we love coffee, but how often do we stop in the morning to smell it brewing? We all say we enjoy music, but how often do we sit down, put on a favourite artist, and simply listen-nothing but listen to music? When was the last time you enjoyed a lazy Sunday instead of pressuring yourself to “do something” because it’s the weekend?
Joy is contagious and will go a lot further to fixing what ails us than hurling insults on social media and crying in our cabernet as we struggle to sleep!
My point is that joy is there for the finding and taking, we just must be willing to give it an opportunity to be found. And if you seek and find it, you will also discover that the weight of the world does not feel quite so heavy. You have the power to make your universe better. Spread joy in your home, and among your friends and family. Stop talking politics, COVID, and climate change. Instead, discuss new gallery or restaurant openings. Seek out nature. Go hiking, biking, skiing, whatever. Take the class, enroll in the program, go on the date, kiss your lover! Whatever it is that makes you feel good, seek it and then share your good mood. Joy is contagious and will go a lot further to fixing what ails us than hurling insults on social media and crying in our cabernet as we struggle to sleep!
I am not trying to trivialize the very serious and important issues that humanity is facing. But I am suggesting that by removing the magnifying glass from these huge existential problems and focusing instead on simplifying and enjoying our own existence the fallout will be a better world for all. It certainly is better than the alternative of living in a permanently stressed-out state. If the world were to come to an end tomorrow, isn’t that even more reason to enjoy today as much as possible?
Stay safe and take care of your loved ones. Make sure you not only seek joy but also that you notice when you find it because the tiniest spark can create the most beautiful fireworks.