I make no claims to a bottomless well of joy. I don’t have definitive answers on how anyone else can find joy in their life, but I think I have a few clues.
I think the most important detail is to be open to joy. Life is hard and hard tends to close us down. In our day and age of instant everything, there’s just way too much data coming in at a very rapid pace. And much of what gets dumped on us is doom and gloom, comparisons none of us can ever live up to, and a lot of useless information.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t use our computers, smart phones, and televisions but maybe we all need more breaks from the gadgets. Because the gadgets become a firewall to creativity, individuality, and joy.
What made you happy when you were a kid? Finger painting? Making mud pies and helping Mom in the kitchen? Bringing home lost kittens and splinting broken wings on birds? Simply sitting in the sunshine and reading a book? A bologna, tomato, and Miracle Whip on white bread sandwich? Listening to American Pie by Don McLean while playing Monopoly with the neighborhood kids?
A simple way of finding joy in adult life is to hearken back to childhood and the things that made us happy then. Even if we can’t recreate those experiences, we can spend some time on Memory Lane.
What I suggest is making yourself comfortable. Sit in a favorite chair, curl up on the couch or set yourself to rocking on the porch swing and close your eyes. Try to think about your earliest memory. It may not be easy for you to bring those memories back and if it doesn’t work right away, don’t get frustrated and don’t try to force it. Just spend ten or fifteen minutes relaxing. Hey, you deserve it!
In coming days, you may realize that memories or at least hints of them are starting to come back. A snippet of a song repeats as your soundtrack. The smell of brownies makes you miss your Mom. The slap of a screen door makes you feel like putting on your tennies and go exploring the fields behind your house.
If you can, jot down the event that triggered a memory or gave you a strong desire. Use technology to find that song and listen to it all the way through. Make a batch of brownies, or at least pick some up at the bakery and sit on the back porch in the sun while you eat one with a glass of cold milk. Go for a walk.
The more doors we open, the more the doors will open. Finding your happy place is as individual an experience as you are, but being open to happy memories is a good place to start.
Then try to bring them into the present by doing things as an adult that echo your childhood. Or just get downright childish. I loved splashing in puddles, now I put on my rubber boots to tromp around in my barnyard. Gardening is a joy I have carried over from early days of growing tomatoes with my mom. When I was a girl and we didn’t use our clothes dryer in the summertime, I fell in love with the scent of line-dried clothes. Now, I try to save collecting the laundry for the end of the day, when the sun is westering and gives a softness to the hills and fields I look over.
I had a few pets as a child, but always wanted to live on Grandma’s farm. I have a farm of my own now, small as it may be, and have had a wide variety of animals. My favorites are still the cattle, especially young calves. Some of the greatest joy I find in life is watching the calves play together. They bounce like pronking antelope, use their heads to push each other back and forth, then chase each other in a game of tag. They seem to enjoy running to the top of the hill of compost my husband created when cleaning up the barnyard in the spring. King of the mountain!
To others, my farm life would be quite boring. I garden, I build, I work with animals. Sweaty, dirty work and I love it all. But this life would be drudgery for my DIL. I see how she takes her time and care to make her home filled with beautiful things, comfortable living spaces, and plenty of room for guests. She and my son are wonderful at entertaining. Me, not so much.
Point being, we each find our own joy in our own space. I pray you find the opening today.