Now that we are three-fourths of the way through the year, I thought it might be a good time to revisit my resolutions for 2017 – or rather, as I wrote back in January, my New Year’s “themes.” Every January, I pick a few words to focus on that year. This time around, I decided that one of my main theme would be joy.
Why Joy? As Lisa Munro writes in her own post on the topic, there’s a risk to joy. It seems dangerous to submit to joy in a world of broken things. Yet practicing joy can be a pathway towards a more authentic self. As she writes, “JOY requires letting go of what we want people to see in favor of experiencing something genuine and being real about it.” In my original post (which was written right around the inauguration), I also wrote about the energizing power of joy and how it can operate as a strategy for building resilience.
How am I doing now? I’d say pretty well. I still get stressed and get grumpy like anyone else. But compared to last year around this time, I feel far more at peace and far more energized.
I’ve learned that joy is a practice that you have to work on consciously. It is closely tied to both gratitude and vulnerability. It feeds on faith, and it falls apart when there’s too much fear. There are many many things in this world that make it hard to practice joy, and so I’ve had to learn to tune some of it out. A more forgiving attitude also helps – both towards others and towards myself.
Here are some other things I’ve done in my pursuit of joy this year, in no particular order.
1. I’ve spent more time looking at the smaller things in nature, especially those things that only appear briefly, like spring flowers, or the caterpillars of early summer that will later transform into butterflies.
2. I’ve focused my energy on kids. I’ve started a business that puts them first.
3. I’ve reduced my time on twitter, dropped all political and news feeds on my Facebook account, made a good faith effort to avoid talking about politics online anymore. Even with people I know well, I find that conversations can go in unexpected direction – and not necessarily because of different opinions so much as tonal misunderstandings.
4. I try to use my social media Facebook to talk about positive things in my life.
5. I’m learning to recognize my limits and step back when the stress gets too high. It’s still a process, I still find myself comfort eating like crazy when I’m sad about something (you should have seen me after the Eagle Creek fire in our region broke out hear last week).
6. I practice yoga. It feels really good.
There’s much more, which I will address in more detail in another progress report when the year ends.