Understanding Your Daily Focus
I have found joy in wildly unexpected places. I became disabled as an adult, and if you had told me what my life was going to look like years ago, I would have hated every word coming out of your mouth. But today my world is full of joy, a fact that no longer surprises me because I know where to look for it and I also know where to let it go. As a kid, I was always interested in odd, weird, and strange things. I found joy in things that other kids thought were unusual, like bugs, the stars, and magic. In a way, I guess this set the stage for following my own path to joy, without being too weighed down by what others thought.
However, the world puts so many invisible pressures upon us, in ways that I didn’t even realize until I was forced to really look. The idea that getting out of your comfort zone will always be a good thing isn’t actually true for us all. Some of us need to know what we’re getting into in order to feel safe. There are introverts who do not derive joy from the things that their extrovert friends do. There are people who will be most at ease and feel the most validated by simple words of affirmation, and some who need a grand gesture to feel matched in their sincerity. And that’s okay. The key is forgetting what we’ve been taught to want, and asking ourselves what we actually want instead. I think you’ll be surprised by the deviations, and how looking closely can move you closer to an authentic form of joy. That’s the theme of this week’s Daily Focus.
Saturday, January 29
“’Without pain, how could we know joy?’ This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.” –John Green
I love this quote for flipping the script, but I think that
in a way, both can be true. Sometimes, at our highest moments, we look back and
can appreciate what we’ve been through—but at the same time, joy does not
require pain to be sweet, to be fulfilling. In fact, it tastes the same
regardless of what came before it. One person’s joy is not less for not having
suffered. So, this week, and always, allow yourself to take the small moments
when you can.
Sunday, January 30
“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
It’s cheesy, it’s cliché, but it’s also true. Laughter
heals, laughter connects, laughter bridges gaps. It’s one of the greatest
gifts, and we deserve to seek it out and bask in it.
Monday, January 31
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river
moving in you, a joy.” –Rumi
This quote feels basic, leaving a lot of room for
interpretation, but here’s the truth at the center of it: what brings you joy
might be something other people really don’t understand. There is a reason that
humans all over the world collect things. It feels good. We have special
interests that sometimes can be embarrassing. But really, who cares? If antique
cookie jars are the thing that moves the river of joy through you, then you
deserve all of the cookie jars in the world. It’s okay if it only makes sense
Tuesday, February 1
“One can never consent to creep when one feels an
impulse to soar.” –Helen Keller
You will know the things that bring you joy because you will
gravitate toward them, and they will move you. If you’re dragging your feet
through everything lately, it’s time to branch out. Try adding in new things or
swapping out the way you attack challenges. Find whatever makes you soar.
Wednesday, February 2
“Comparison is the death of joy.” –Mark
It can be easy to feel less than when you’re comparing yourself to the cultivated and curated image others present of their lives. Social media makes this easier than ever and learning to stop comparing can be so challenging when the images are constantly thrown in your face. But nobody is the same, and odds are that even in someone else’s shoes—you would be doing things very differently and finding joy in very different places. Don’t compare yourself to others when your own journey is rich and powerful as well.
Thursday, February 3
“If we can just let go and trust that things will work
out the way they’re supposed to, without trying to control the outcome, then we
can begin to enjoy the moment more fully. The joy of the freedom it brings
becomes more pleasurable than the experience itself.” –Goldie
Planning for and trying to cage joy in can backfire.
Sometimes, all we can do is push through life and let joy find us. If you’re
feeling like you’re out of options for making changes, take the time today to
note what makes you smile, and lean in when you can. Let joy come find you for
Friday, February 4
“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” –Pierre
Teilhard de Chardin
God, the Universe, Spirit, Community—however you define the spiritual and supernatural, it’s easy to feel connected to it when you’re experiencing joy. There is a higher level of peace and wonder that comes, not from having the cosmic answers, but by being brave enough to simply ask the cosmic questions.
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