When was the last time you truly enjoyed yourself?
If you have to think about this question, please skip the following question.
Perhaps a better, slightly more provoking question I could ask is whether you make it a point to find joy every day.
There’s a saying in the Netherlands that a day without joy is a day not lived. I’m not sure the expression originated in the Netherlands, but I grew up with it.
Not knowing the exact reason, I think I’m pretty good at finding joy every day, no matter how small.
I remember growing up finding joy in playing tennis almost daily.
I remember sitting on the bus to school listing to ‘alive & kicking’ by the Simple Minds over and over again.
I remember enjoying plane rides across the Atlantic and using the hours to read, sleep, and enjoy good food (I was privileged to travel Business Class for a while).
Very recently, I remember a perfect sunny day of skiing in the Alps. Getting up early and being one of the first of freshly groomed slopes.
I don’t think a day has gone by that I didn’t find something small during the day I would enjoy.
I have hard days as well as everyone has. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find something that warms your heart, even if just for five minutes.
And I’m still getting better at connecting to joy.
Meditation has made me aware that there’s always a blue sky out there. Emotions come and go, but deep down, there’s a level of contentment.
And the only reason it’s there is that I know who I am, what I stand for, and what I enjoy.
I can find moments of joy no matter how hard a day seems to be.
It does not mean I don’t wrestle with difficult choices. But those choices are a challenge that triggers curiosity.
‘How do I get out of this situation?’
No matter how thick the fog may be and how far the blue sky is out of sight, it’s still there. This too will pass, so much I know by now.
As I write these words down, I realize this all sounds easier on paper than it is. I’ve also had moments when the blue sky seemed far away.
And that no matter what somebody else told, the fog would never clear.
Here are the things that I’ve learned to do when a blue sky seems far away:
- Go for a run.
- Drive to a nice coffee place and have a coffee. Don’t forget to treat yourself also.
- Call a friend you can talk to.
- Breathe and meditate.
- Practice gratitude.
I’d like to pause for a little at the last bullet because I think the magic is in those two words.
Practice and Gratitude.
If you can push yourself to take a few minutes at the end of every day to think about a few things (or just one) you’re grateful for, you’ll also train your mind to connect to joy easier.
Gratitude and joy are not the same, I realize, but they’re close cousins.
Some days, these moments of gratitude may be about significant events.
Most of the time, it’s finding joy and gratitude in the small things in life. At the time of writing, the sun is setting outside our house.
I realize that the days are getting longer again, and within a few weeks, the sun will be back on our terrace again.
Today, that’s going to be one of my moments of gratitude.
No matter how hard your day has been, you can always find moments like that if you look hard enough.
And when you do it often enough, the blue sky is never far away.
Your turn: what’s a ritual you genuinely enjoy?
Do more of what makes you happy!
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