2022 – Year of Joy

It all started with a doormat.

Well, in actuality, it started with a birthday present that was cute but one that I would never use. My sweet husband bought me a t-shirt and when we went back to the store to return it, I couldn’t find anything at all that I liked. Just as I was about to give up and return the item, my eyes fell on this doormat. It was the last one left and I grabbed it.

The next morning, I walked out to drive my son to the school bus and my heart lifted when I saw the doormat.

I felt Joy.

That was back in September and the doormat is still outside and I have felt that joy every single time I leave the house. I feel it right now, looking at the picture above.

I know it’s weird, I can’t explain it either but I have bought at least seventeen other rainbow items since. Containers, baskets, little lights, hanging hearts, bracelets, I bought them all. They all give me endless joy.

As soon as I felt that uplift in my soul, I knew I had to pick joy for my word for 2022. But I also felt a huge resistance, I couldn’t explain it.

So I went on a search. Here are all the words I considered:

  • delight
  • yellow
  • light
  • laugh
  • spark
  • build
  • cheer
  • play
  • grow
  • celebrate
  • Awake
  • Alive
  • open
  • shift
  • possibility
  • joy
  • restore

I also had words that were close to my heart this year that felt more comfortable to choose. Words like ease, release, space. Each of these seemed more plausible than joy. There was just something off about Joy, it felt too much. Too audacious.

I spent days looking up synonyms. I talked about it with both my coach and my therapist. I was really curious as to why I was both resisting it and also reluctant to let it go. I’d never had this type of a reaction to a word before. I felt like it was mocking me.

As I tried on different words, I’d close my eyes and capture the feeling that I had when I stepped out to the doormat and the only word that kept feeling right was “joy” nothing else would do.

There’s this quote I’d seen before on pinterest that I loved:

“I wish to live a life that causes my soul to dance inside my body”

This is exactly how I felt when I stepped out on that doormat (yes, I know, a doormat?!) I felt my soul lift with joy.

So after weeks of trying to find alternatives, and even googling why I was resisting it, I decided this was going to be my year of Joy. A part of me is deeply resisting it but a bigger part of me is unwilling to let it go. So I will consider this the year to be curious about it.

I looked up a lot of different things about this word and here are some things I’ve found that really resonate with me:

Joy and happiness are wonderful feelings to experience, but are very different. Joy is more consistent and is cultivated internally. It comes when you make peace with who you are, why you are and how you are, whereas happiness tends to be externally triggered and is based on other people, things, places, thoughts and events.

And here’s something that really explains how I felt with the doormat (and continue to feel)

Joy is much simpler and more immediate. Psychologists define joy as an intense momentary experience of positive emotion. It can be measured through direct physical expression. So the feeling of smiling, laughter, and wanting to jump up and down. We get that feeling when something gives us a spark of joy. So in sum, to make it simple, happiness is something that we measure over time. Joy is about feeling good in the moment, and it’s really about these small and simple moments.

I was reading a book by a therapist a few weeks ago and I highlighted this passage that really resonated with me and reminded me what might be possible with this word if I can choose to hold it close:

Our attention is like a spotlight. We have control of that spotlight, but we cannot control the actors who come on stage. We cannot control how long they spend there, what they say, or when they leave. What we get to do is focus that spotlight on one or two of them at a time. If we settle our focus on the anxious thoughts that tell stories of worst-case scenarios and images of you not coping, they get the chance to feed back to the brain that all is not well. When you shift the spotlight of your attention to other thoughts on the stage that offer a different story, they will have their influence on your bodily reaction too. While you are focusing on them, the other thoughts may not leave the stage. They may stick around, waiting for the spotlight again. But without it, they have less power over your emotional state.

So maybe it’s time to put the spotlight on Joy for 2022.

And I love that just like my words from the last few years, it has the potential to be quiet and loud, passive and active.

  • Creating Joy: This is about actively taking action to have more joy in my life. Like the rainbows. Like going on adventures. Like putting on loud music and singing. Like sitting outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Going after what I know gives me joy.
  • Seeing the Joy: This is the passive version. The one that’s about the spotlight. Noticing it. Looking for it. Making sure to shine the spotlight on it.
  • Choosing Joy: This is about choosing the joyful option. Changing my perspective. It’s both active and passive since I am actively changing my perspective but not changing the situation.
  • Inviting Joy: This is quietly active. Gently inviting joy into my life. Taking small steps. Practicing gratitude.
  • Practicing Joy: This is like inviting, too, but it’s more about taking action. Doing small things. Getting more and more familiar with the feeling of joy inside my body.
  • Curious Joy: And maybe this is the most interesting one. This is my year to be more and more curious about what brings me joy. I haven’t always been a joyous person. At least it’s not how I see myself. But maybe 2022 will change that. The goal here is paying attention and finding things that give me joy and doing them.

I really liked the lists I’ve made in the years past year so here are a few other aspects of joy for me (some new, some repeats.):

  1. Shine the spotlight on joy: Settle your focus on joy. Spend your attention and time there as much as you can. Assume the joyous perspective. Choose the light every single time.
  2. Is this mine to carry? Ask yourself this each time before you pick something up. Don’t get on the rollercoaster. If it’s not mine, I will not pick it up. I can love my people and I can offer to help, but I will not pickup what’s not mine to carry.
  3. Surrender and Release: Let things go. Now you know you can. Visualize the balloons. Let them all go. They are not serving you.
  4. Can I hold this lightly? This is a recent question that’s really starting to serve me. Just like remembering what not to carry, I am trying to get clear what I can hold lightly. Does this really, deeply matter to me? Does it need to be held so tightly?
  5. I have my own back. I have what I need. I am grateful to the people who love me and share my life and I am grateful for all I have and at the same time, when I remember that I have my own back, I feel stronger and more solid in the world.
  6. Reset your expectations: Try to set expectations as low as possible. People don’t owe you anything. It’s wonderful when it happens but it’s not expected. Life is not transactional. Give people an opportunity to delight and not disappoint you.
  7. The ground beneath me is not going anywhere: Things are solid. The ground is not moving. Especially when I choose not to get on the roller coaster.
  8. Be Generous: Make room for others. Expand. Tell them why they are amazing. Praise. Donate. Be generous. Nothing is ever too much trouble and there’s always time.
  9. Stronger: You have what it takes. You are getting stronger every single day and I am so proud of you. Just keep at it. Give yourself grace and keep going. Try a tiny bit harder. 
  10. Yes You Can: You are amazing. You have proven again and again that you can do anything you set your mind to. So have faith in yourself. Work hard. Work smart. Do it for you. Do what you decide you want to. Keep at it. You can do it. Yes you can.

I started making a list of things that I know bring me joy. Here’s what’s on there so far: (I’ll try to keep this list growing throughout 2022)

  • Playing loud music
  • Talking all day with a friend
  • First sip of coffee
  • Dipping my toes in the sea/water
  • Watching planes land
  • Laughing
  • Helping someone else
  • Seeing the people I love get their wishes
  • Playing games with Nathaniel
  • Warm shower after a workout
  • Delicious food
  • Company and deep conversations
  • An excellent book
  • A good friend
  • Conquering a hard climb
  • Color
  • Fresh air
  • Art
  • Purpose, reflection
  • Rainbows
  • Christmas
  • Twinkle Lights
  • Journaling
  • Sunshine
  • Learning something new
  • Hugging my people tightly
  • A funny movie
  • A perfectly ripe banana
  • Watermelon
  • Hearing the people I love laugh (hearing anyone laugh)

So there we go. Here’s to a 2022 full of JOY.

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