I read an interesting article recently on the difference between being happy and joyful in our everyday life. It described how our culture has come to think that happiness has to involve some type of firework display of emotion. Those overwhelming, senses overload, mind blowing experiences have become how we determine if we are “happy”. If we have those moments often enough, then we can consider ourselves to be happy. However, for most of us, those types of moments do not come as often as we would like. In fact, those moments are few and far between. So instead of the constant highs of the fireworks, we are left with the empty and depressed feeling of “normalcy”. Eventually we trick ourselves into thinking that normal is also associated with unhappy. Social media also plays a major role in this facade. When we compare the exciting moments of our own lives to those of our friends and followers we start to devalue what we do have and become jealous of what we don’t.
So instead of focusing on the fleeting moments of happiness, instead we have to find a deeper happiness—joy. Joy stems from the small moments in our everyday that bring us happiness. They are the ordinary moments in our seemingly boring and normal life that we miss out on because they do not have the glitz and glamor of the life changing ones. These small moments are the sustainable ones, the ones that if we pay attention to, occur and bring us happiness every day. There is no let down after these moments simply because they happen on a regular basis. Upon realization that we do not need the major highs to be happy we develop a sense of peace about our lives. This peace fosters a subtle yet satisfying happiness–we become joyful. Joy is different for each of us and we can find it in different areas of our lives. For me, my joy comes from:
Watching my dog prance around the park unleased and free.
Laughing with my family over the inside jokes we have created over the years.
Seeing people going out of their comfort zone to try something new.
Watching a sunset holding the hand of someone I love.
Coffee on a cold morning with a good book.
A text or call from an old friend recalling a fond memory.
Writing in my journal with no worry of proper grammar or guidelines.
These are not things that stop me in my tracks or change my life, but they bring me joy on a daily basis. Without having to search for the next big moment, my mind is free to enjoy these smaller unexpected moments that bring me happiness and peacefulness throughout my day. So the next time you are convinced that you are unhappy, take a step back, slow your mind, and focus on the small moments. Find happiness and joy in the everyday, normal and ordinary-it’s there we just have to be open to see it.
“True happiness is sustainable delight in the beautiful moments of ordinary life.” -Martha Beck