Desperately Seeking Joy … in All the Wrong Places?
In this issue: Desperately Seeking Joy / Re-Learn How to Have Fun / Flashback Favorites: The Happiness Advantage / A Moment of Pure Joy From the Amazing Resistance Revival Chorus
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I'm Andrea J. Miller and this is my “The Wellthy Leader” Newsletter. I send this to people in my networks, people I’ve met recently, and friends I want to keep in touch with. You can unsubscribe (SEE THE VERY BOTTOM OF THE EMAIL) anytime, I won’t be offended
Desperately Seeking Joy
Greetings from Geneva, Switzerland! In an attempt at quasi-normalcy, I’ve put on my finest mask and returned to the place I called home for 9 years to add a bit more joy into my post-pandemic life.
It’s somewhat ironic given the title of the post, but I wasn’t very happy my first few years here…I had difficulties finding work, didn’t know very many people, didn’t speak the language, etc., etc…and yet, here I am, in the midst of the current travel chaos, seeking joy.
This begs the question, what is joy anyway…and how do we find it?
Unlike our eternal quest for that thing, person, or experience that will give us that often fleeting moment of happiness, joy is much more of a longer-term, inside game.
As Dr. Pamela E. King at the Thrive Center of Human Development, defined it, “joy is most fully understood as a virtue that involves our thoughts, feelings, and actions in response to what matters most in our lives. Thus, joy is an enduring, deep delight in what holds the most significance.”
That’s why I chose to have a cotton swab stuck up my nose, fill out several forms and get patted down by security in multiple countries and languages. It wasn’t to look at the beautiful mountains or to have my morning coffee and croissant by the Jet D’Eau (gratuitous photo below) or even to have some amazing chocolate (though chocolate does tend to make just about everything better). All those things are great, but they’re transitory.
The Jet D’Eau, Lake Geneva
What’s most significant to me and made all the hassles worthwhile, particularly after 18 months of Zoom calls, is the opportunity to have IRL interactions with people I care about.
Not all Lessons in Joy are Joyful
The curious thing about joy is that it’s an emotion that can also be found in the smallest, often most unexpected places, and sometimes, even within our greatest difficulties.
I experienced the connection between joy and suffering came after my second surgery (I had three in total). In a little over a year, I went from being very active to not being able to walk a New York City block the pain was so intense.
My post-surgical recovery took months but, was quickly followed by some of my greatest joy -- I could finally walk again.
Subtraction for Addition
The Greater Good Science Center has an exercise called the Mental Subtraction of Relationships. In this exercise, they ask that you imagine your life without that special someone or my case something (clearly, I took it a bit too far :).
They then ask that you consider what life would be like if you’d never experienced the joy associated with having that person (or thing) in your life. As the saying goes, “we never truly appreciate what we’ve had until it’s gone.”
Finally, they say you should remind yourself that this person or thing is a part of your life again and consider all the many benefits that have come from having that person or thing in your life.
While we’ll never have back all that COVID took from of us, and in some cases, the loss is truly incalculable, the experience has also given us an (albeit incredibly difficult) opportunity to be grateful for all the good we have in our lives.
Consider how it felt the moment(s) you could hug your family and friends again; go out for a meal and do all the seemingly mundane things we previously never thought about.
What if you were able to take the time to savor the everyday experiences and really feel the joy now that it’s back in your life? How would your life change going forward if you were able to add in just a little mental subtraction?
A conscious decision to bring more joy into our lives can boost both mind and body in some positive news, according to Laurie Santos, Yale’s “happiness professor”, the way to feel better need not depend on restrictive diets, grueling fitness regimes, or testing mental challenges, but in something far more attractive: fun. “to make the day a little bit more joyful”.
Flashback Favorites – "The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance"
If you haven’t watched this yet (or even if you have), it’s 12 minutes well-spent. Bestselling author and Happiness researcher Shawn Achor presents the science around the benefits of happiness on our work and life in a way that will have you simultaneously laughing and learning.
Are there any other subjects you want me to cover? Hit “Reply” and tell me!
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